Adventures in Commuting

I don’t commute anymore, since I work at home, but I did for a good long time. I was always a car commuter, hitting the roads with thousands of my fellow drivers every morning and evening. 

It’s a funny thing. I always enjoyed my commute. Even stuck in traffic, I liked sitting in my own little world where the temperature was always right and the music was always good. And, every now and again, things happened that made for great dinner conversation. Even years later, there are a handful of commuting moments that hold a special place in my memories.

1. The Perfect Springsteen Moment

I was on the highway one afternoon, and I saw a large pink car ahead of me in the next lane. I am not much of a car person, I can’t identify the make and model of every car on the road, like some people I know. All I could positively say about this particular car was that it was made in the 1970s, a convertible and pink. Just as I formed the thought “I wonder if that is a pink Cadillac,” I got close enough to see the license plate, which read “YES IT IS.” It was perfect, and I smiled all the rest of the way home.

2. Valentine’s Day

One Valentine’s Day, I was stopped at a long red light next to a pick-up with a giant teddy bear in the passenger seat. I couldn’t tell if it was a large bear being held in someone’s lap, or a really large bear sitting in the seat by himself. Apparently I stared long enough, trying to answer this vitally important question, that the passengers in the truck noticed. I know this, because the giant teddy bear turned his head to look at me and waved. I could see a man’s hand waving the bear’s arm, so it was much less creepy than it sounds. At that point, there was really only one option; I laughed and waved back.

3. The Showstopper

This one is another red light memory. One bright summer evening, I drove home with my favorite soundtrack, Cabaret. I know every word to every song, and I sang them all. I reached the title track as I was exiting the highway, and I was really belting it out. I was singing full-voice and making grand gestures with my non-steering hand. If Randy Jackson had been in my back seat, he would have told me I was in it to win it. As I let the final note die down, I had to stop for a minute to catch my breath. I happened to look to my left (I was stopped at the red light at this point). The driver of the vehicle sitting next to me was my smartass shop foreman, and he was laughing his ass off at me. I experienced a split second of gut-clenching horror, and then I decided to let go and roll with it. I tipped my imaginary hat and waved.

Lest you think all my memories ended with laughter all around, I leave you with this:

4. The Bog of Eternal Stench

For two years, my daily commute took me past a water reclamation plant. That’s a fancy way of saying “sewage treatment.” I was introduced to a whole new world of horrible smells. The best part was that it smelled different every day, and because it was always a new smell, I was never prepared for it. Two or three times a week, I would have the same conversation in my head; “Good lord, what is that smell? Oh yeah, I’m passing the reclamation plant.” I have a whole subset of stench memories, like the time there was an accident up the road and I got stuck sitting next to the plant for half an hour, or the time I was convinced that the entire city must have had Chinese take-out the night before. Seriously, I can’t impress upon you enough how badly this place smelled. It’s the type of thing you try to explain to someone, and they think they understand, but the first time you take them by the place they still look around in horror and say “Holy crap, what is that?!?” It may not have been fun, but it certainly made an impression. :)

From what I’ve heard, public transportation offers much better stories than mine. If any of you have had some fun commuting adventures, please share them in the comments.

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[E]SaraB

Glass artisan by day, blogger by night (and sometimes vice versa). SaraB has three kids, three pets, one husband and a bizarre sense of humor. Her glass pendants can be found at www.etsy.com/shop/AngryOwlStudio if you're interested in checking it out.

20 thoughts on “Adventures in Commuting”

  1. Paper factories make for terrible smells as you pass, too… there was one in Palatka that became synonymous for everyone in my area with that retched sulfur flatulence smell. Even on the other side of the country, when a strange smell comes into the car, my husband and I say to each other “Must be going through Palatka.”

    1. Oh God, you could get a whiff of the mill in Gainesville if the wind was right.

      Honestly, my only really good commuter story is of the woman I used to see at the stoplight occasionally as I was going home (we must have left at the same time). Seriously, the woman straight up was having a dance party in her car most times I saw her and she gave no fucks.

      Oh and there was the time I saw a small tornado touch down briefly as I was driving home during the daily Florida afternoon thunderstorms. Freaked me out.

  2. I was always a big fan of subway mariachis. I was on the 4 or 5 train late one night when a knife fight broke out in the next car and all of a sudden everyone rushed from that car into mine. (Which is why I hated it when they started locking the doors between cars; how the fuck would you get away from something like that?) I once saw some dude sneak into the tunnel after a Yankee game to have a pee. I accidentally dropped my mp3 player off the platform on Super Bowl Sunday a few years ago. I was pissed, but as I was also 7 months pregnant there was no way in hell I was gonna venture down there to get it back, even though the trains were running really far apart. Oh, and one time there was a dude leaning up against the doors with his erection sticking straight out in his sweatpants. When the doors opened he turned sideways and the way he was slouching everyone had to swerve to keep from bumping into his dick.

    And yet I somehow still miss the city.

    1. I used to regularly see these four men on the 2/3. One would ask a stranger, “Excuse me sir/ma’am, do you know what time it is?” and the other three would chime in with “IT’S DO-WOP TIME!” Then do-wop would ensue.

      It helped that I love do-wop.

  3. First I just need to say I love these Stories.  But Number 3 is much better from the smartass shop foreman’s Point of view.  I over heard him telling it at a party several years ago and well Jameson burns when you laugh it through your nose.

     

    One of My fondest Commuting stories was from the SaraB and I moved in together before our wedding.   Our Boys where 5 and had just started kindergarten.  The Bus stop was a little over a quarter of a mile away and the bus came at 6:45am.  Many Mornings I would load the boys into my truck and sit at the bus stop with them and then start my commute to another suburb on the FAR other side of Atlanta where a was stage managing a show for school groups.   Well one morning might have nodded off waiting on the bus and was awakened but the truck door slamming shut and the other parent cars driving off.   I Drove about 10-15 minutes through some back roads and just as I reached the expressway I heard a tiny voice next to me say “Mita, do I STILL need to hold your coffee…sigh”.

    Now in a panic I drove back the way I came faster that I should have with wild thoughts going through my head.  “How can she trust me I can’t even get her kid on the bus”.  As I panicked  more about getting to school on time this tiny little man patted me on the arm and stated the it would be ok and that he new we wouldn’t be late.   From That second on he stopped being “Her Kid”.  It was a couple of years late that he started to call me Dad but I will never forget that moment the this little guy put his faith in me.

    oh and I didn’t make it to work on time that day But My friend Pumpkin had my back.

     

  4. I don’t think I have any amusing stories, even though I have been using public transport regularly since I was seventeen. One disgusting one, but all those crazy stories someone can come up with ..no.

    Only thing I can think of was once I was writing a story about a gay vampire and the older lady next to me wondered if that ‘Surely wasn’t my diary, is it?’ and clearly had been reading along. I hope she found it entertaining.

  5. I typically brought a book to ward off the real creepers while commuting on the CTA Red Line every day.  However, I once noticed an older guy staring at me while he ate chicken wings from a bag.  He was leaning against the wall of the train, holding the bag in one hand and eating chicken with the other.  I tried to ignore him.  Then he leaned against the other wall, put his chicken-eating hand in his pocket and continued to stare creepily.  Of course, he was holding his chicken to the side, not in front of his crotch, so it was really easy to see what he was doing.  Publicly masturbating.  Like he had all the time in the world.

  6. If I really thought about it, I could probably come up with enough public transportation stories to fill a book (hey, maybe I should start a Tumblr and then get a book deal).

    So I’ll focus on today. I was on the LIRR, seated diagonally behind a middle-aged dude watching porn on his phone. He thought he was being sneaky but clearly not since I saw it. Not what I needed at 7:45 this morning.

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