Thursday, November 30, 2006

Good Times on I-78

I may have previously mentioned that I am working again for my former employer. I have done various recruiting projects for them since I left New Jersey a couple of years ago. Now that I am not living in Ohio, I've been doing projects for them at some of their offices throughout Central New Jersey. They pay me well and I am glad to do it. This latest project, however, has been rough. I work at the office Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and work from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. While I could write an entire post on "It Really Sucks Working at Home When Your Kids Are There Too," I will table that for another day.

The toughest part of my job has been my commute. On a good day, I can cover the 86 miles in about 90 minutes. On a bad day, it is 2+ hours. On the one hand, I really don't feel right about bitching. I agreed to do the project and am being paid mileage to go to and from work right now because I am doing this favor for them. But the drive SUCKS. It just does. Anyone who knows Interstate 78 knows my pain. Interstate 78 is a stretch of highway that goes into New York. Parts of it are always under construction. It is a main artery for many New Jerseyans' commutes. Because so many people from New York and New Jersey are moving to the Easton/Bethlehem/Allentown, PA area, the traffic snarls have extended out there as well. My husband currently leaves the house at 5:15 AM to avoid the traffic I am faced with a mere 90 minutes later. Sometimes the traffic jams up because of accidents, the sun, the rain or the snow. The rest of the time it is anyone's guess as to why it takes so damned long to get where you need to go.

In the few months of this commuting, I have learned a few things. First of all, I no longer bring coffee on my drive. The lack of caffeine that I suffer through until I get to work is a far cry from the suffering I have faced in not having a bathroom readily accessible. Secondly, I learned that satellite radio is one of the best investments one can make. In addition, I have learned to bring reading materials. The Wall Street Journal has kept me from going batshit on more than one occasion I was stuck in non-moving traffic for upwards of 30 minutes.

One of the more amusing things I have discovered is that I am not the only person who leaves at precisely the same time every day. There are a few cars I recognize on my drive, and I think they recognize me. There is the guy who drives a United States Homeland Security SUV. There is the woman who drives a really horrible yellow Honda. I am sure there are many more, but they blend in with all of the other cars. Another plus with this commute is that the people watching is FANTASTIC. I recently spent one morning counting the people I caught picking their noses (six). One morning I spent counting people who were singing (three.) Believe me, when you are stuck in the same place on a road for reasons only known by God, you'll learn to appreciate the little things that may amuse you.

Yesterday's commute started off like any other--a slowdown near the PA/NJ border, construction at mile marker 7, more slowdowns at 11, and 15. After that, my drive was looking good. I actually was driving about 75 MPH, thinking that I might get to work at a decent time. A shorter drive is normally just as boring, but then I quickly realized that I had hit commuter GOLD. The black Nissan Altima ahead of me was being driven by a man whose two hands were on his head. That's because he was SHAVING HIS HEAD WITH CLIPPERS while driving 75+ MPH! I followed this man for close to eight miles, completely riveted by what he was doing. One hand did the clipping while the other hand checked to make sure he hadn't missed anything. So many thoughts were running in my head like, "Doesn't he care that he is getting hair all over himself and his car?" and, "Is he driving with his legs?"

Of course I wasn't the only person who noticed. People were passing him with, "WTF???" expressions on their faces. He just kept on shaving. Of course, I got on my phone and called my girlfriend Amy and was all, "OH MY GOD, you won't believe this guy in front of me!!!" and "Where is a COP when you need one!" Then, out of nowhere, he pulled into the far left lane (still shaving mind you)and passed a car and sped away. He was easily doing 80 MPH.

Suddenly, applying mascara while driving really doesn't seem like a big deal anymore. Nor does eating a Taco Bell Grande without dropping anything on yourself.

12 comments:

Melissa said...

SHAVING? He was shaving? Ewww, can you imagine being the next person to sit in that car?

I've heard rumors of people doing that, but I've never seen it. Now people brusing their teeth, reading newspapers and having sex...that I've seen. But not shaving. Impressive.

I have to tell you, I feel your pain on the commute, not that I do it anymore, but I used to. But as anyone in LA will tell you, the worst highway in the US is the 405.

The June Cleaver Diaries said...

Ohhh, I would have so loved it if he had been pulled over. You should have taken pics with your cell phone to share.

L. said...

Yeah -- you gotta get one of those cell phone video cams, for next time!

Misfit Hausfrau said...

I tried taking pictures with my cell phone, but for some reason, I can't delete the photos that are on there. I figured it wasn't a good idea to be messing around with my phone since I, too , was driving rather fast.

Anonymous said...

I used to commute daily too. Thought 45 min. to 1 hour each way was bad. Ha!

I didn't LOVE the commute, but there were some things I did like. On the way to work, I was able to think about what I needed to do for the day, and plan it out. On the way home, I was able to decompress a little before I faced the fam.

I could listen to grown up music, as loudly as I wanted, and sing my heart out. I got some time ALONE. People watching (I love that too!).

Hope you're able to snap a pic next time. Because chances are good there will be a next time!

kimmyk said...

I thought about changing jobs and working in the city, but the commute just gets to me. But I think I would welcome the silence honestly.

stefanierj said...

90 min?? And partly in NJ? Gah. Couldn't do it.

My commute's only 30 min, but when I work in our downtown office, I kinda miss it. I don't have time to drink a leisurely cup of coffee, get caught up on news/sports, put lipstick on and swear at lousy Utah drivers. :)

Pendullum said...

Would have loved to see if he hit a 'snag'...
And YUCK! to the picking of the nose...
and I wanna know what they do when they reach 'gold'!!! WHERE DO THEY PUT IT???

Kristen said...

90 minutes in the car! ACK!! I go insane when my drive stretches to 30 or 40 minutes of stop-and-go. I don't know how you do it!!

gmcountrymama said...

People watching is fun. I drive 36 miles each way to work on one of America's dangerous 2 lane highways, so I can't see anyone. On my way home at night I might only see 2 cars for the entire drive. I like to also, like Andie, listen to grown up music really loud and yes, I sing along.

AdventureDad said...

I've yet to work anywhere with more than 20 minutes commute. Door to door. I'm not sure what I would do with a along commute. There goes the daily workout or time with the kids.

I hope I never have to spend a few hours a day getting to work. No offense but I consider it a huge waste of time to spend weeks every year in a car or train.

Nice weekend

AD

Anonymous said...

I'm still looking for work and am semi-dreading finding a job in San Francisco. It's an hour and twenty minutes if I take the train and 45 if there's no traffic. But there always IS traffic, so the train is probably the better deal. After reading your post, it's a good reminder that my commute options aren't as bad as I feared. I don't know how you do it.