On my drive to work in the morning, when traffic is starting to get bad, I’ve noticed that I’ve developed a habit of tracking my progress relative to the cars in the next lane. I think I’ve always had a tendency to read other people’s number plates (being the compulsive reader that I am), but it was just out of interest to see what words or phrases I could come up with, or to see what personalised plates people had.
But in the mornings, after I enter the freeway, I commit a few number plates to my short-term memory, and try to figure out if my usual lane is faster, or if I should switch (and then switch back when needed). Often it’s a bit of leap-frog, and I think the overall difference is not significant enough to warrant manoeuvring through traffic when so many other cars are already jumping between lanes. Sometimes I think that I should have changed lanes, but sometimes I’m quite glad I didn’t.
In recent weeks, when I notice that I’m doing this progress tracking, I stop myself and wonder why I do it. Is it just my competitive side coming out? Is it my need to analyse everything, perhaps with the intent of making my commute more efficient? Or am I just trying to make this repetitive trip more interesting?
Sometimes when I get to these questions, I stop looking at the number plates of other cars, and I just tell myself that I’ll get to work around the same time either way — just relax and enjoy the ride.
Last week, as I was driving to work along the freeway, I noticed that the car behind me was driving quite close. So close, in fact, that there’s almost no doubt they were intentionally tailgating. I could even see the driver’s impassive face clearly in my rearview mirror.
Maybe they were in a hurry to go somewhere important, for something important, that they only had short notice about, or were late for some other reason, but they were tailgating on a freeway, and that is dangerous driving.
I was already driving at the speed limit, so I don’t know what they wanted me to do. Exceed the speed limit and tailgate the car in front of me? I glanced at the lanes beside me — the other driver was probably avoiding those because they weren’t any faster.
I’m generally not an aggressive driver. I try to be aware of other vehicles around me, and always let others merge into my lane, provided it’s safe to do so. There’s a certain point on the freeway on the way to work where a lot of lane changing occurs. As we approach the CBD, there is a tributary of traffic flowing steadily in on the left, and then, up ahead, there are exiting lanes on the right and left (depending on which street of the CBD you’re headed to).
This means that there are almost always people in one of the righthand-side lanes that need to move all the way left, and people in one of the lefthand-side lanes who want to get across to the right. It’s at this juncture that I’m on high alert, and will generally leave enough space between me and the car in front to allow someone else to merge/pass by if needed.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to tell you about a car accident. Continue reading
Back in April, on a day like any other except it really wasn’t, I had an interesting encounter. I’ve been meaning to write this post since then, so I figure this week’s as good as any.
I had decided to drive to work that day because I’d planned on visiting a couple of friends that night to collect some cheesecake. However, as luck would have it, there was so much traffic on my drive home. We moved along at a ridiculously slow pace.
By the time I got near home and filled up petrol, it was getting kind of late, so I decided on a whim that I should have dinner before going to visit my friends (my original plan had been to collect the cake and then go have dinner). And that’s how I ended up at Taco Bell. Continue reading
Over the last few months, I’ve been driving to work more. I still catch the bus/train on most days, but if I know we’re going to have a late finish, or if the weather is bad, or if I leave the house a bit late, then I decide to drive. Also, if I’m bringing cake/pie/fudge/whatever, it’s a lot easier to transport by car than by bus.
There were a couple of weeks around Easter that I drove to work every day. It was great – I cut down my commute time significantly, I got to work earlier and had time to enjoy tea/coffee before I started, and I often got some reading or studying done before work too (while drinking said tea/coffee). I walked with colleagues to the carpark after work, and complained with them about the lack of spaces in the lower levels. I listened to music while I was on the road, and had a chance to energise in the morning and to wind down in the evening.
After a time, though, it didn’t feel right. Continue reading
I’d like to think that I’m as realistic and practical and, yes, as cynical as the next person (you probably can’t work in the service industry this long without getting to be like this to some extent), but I’d also like to think that I’m generally quite a positive and optimistic person. Sometimes, in certain cases, I can be relentlessly optimistic. Sometimes I’m optimistic to such an extent that I wonder if this annoys people (usually the people I work with). Continue reading