I’m Riding Around and I’m Getting It

My new commute, on average, takes me between 54 and 1:32 minutes. The quickest commute has been 27 minutes. It was late at night and don’t ask me why I was still at work. The longest commute was… I don’t even want to think about it. It was absolutely horrible and this was way before I discovered books on tape. The commute length depends on several variables like whether I’m taking my daughter to school first or if I’m in rush hour traffic (which isn’t as short as happy hour, by the way) or if there’s inclement weather or if there’s an accident or if it’s Friday. What the hell is up with Fridays? No matter what time I hit the road, it’s jammed. I digress. It can get bad.

Well, after my new office mate saw me burst into our office near tears after an almost three hour commute, she told me about a new app called Waze. It’s supposed to be a traffic ninja, stealthily finding obscure routes to get me where I need to go in a reasonable time frame. I know some of you are saying, “Define ‘reasonable.’”  Reasonable depends on the conditions, but let’s say less than two hours to go 25 miles. If you live in Chicago, then you know this is reasonable.

So I downloaded the app and immediately found a BFF. This wanch is cold! She tells me the absolute best route and by best, I mean the shortest route. She redirects me if traffic gets heavy. She provides me with alternate routes because she knows that I like having a choice in the matter. She even tells me when there’s a traffic camera or a cop nearby, not that I ever speed. No, really. I drive like your great grandmother on Sundays. Waze proved herself after two days of getting me home and to work in less than 1:05 minutes. A feat.

So what’s the problem? I think I have trust issues. Even though she promises to try her best, sometimes, I think she’s on crack or at least making bad judgment calls. She has me driving through side streets, alleys, up highway ramps to drive three blocks, then back down another ramp to the same traffic. And let me tell you. Having someone, no some thing, some electronic thing, some free electronic thing dictate my life is not my idea of being in control or making good life choices. So I started protesting.

It went something like this. One day, I just turned her off. I’ve been driving for at least 25 years, by myself. Did I really need her bossing me around? Well, it took me 1:45 minutes to get home on my own. So the next day, I turned her ass back on again. Hello, BFF. I’m sorry. I’ll listen today. But I didn’t. She suggested that I go the O’Hare route on the Kennedy expressway. I could clearly see that the traffic was even worse than it was going the Milwaukee route, so I took my old trusted route (that she’d provided me with, mind you.) Each morning for about two weeks, as if she were testing me, she suggested the O’Hare route and I politely said “no” and turned down Milwaukee (the alternate route), though it was clearly an additional 18 minutes per her calculations. I was fine until this morning.

I was on the Kennedy and again, she suggested stupid O’Hare and again, it was filled to capacity, standstill traffic, and no room to move, think or breathe. However, her estimated time had me arriving 21 minutes earlier to work than my usual route. I was intrigued. I took the damn route. Surprisingly, right after the split towards O’Hare, she suggested I get off the expressway at Lawrence and then took me around a few empty side streets and placed me back where? Back onto the expressway going towards O’Hare. I was irritated because the traffic was still there, but I played along. I wanted to prove this heifer wrong once and for all. She couldn’t be that smart if she didn’t know that O’Hare was a doggone mess filled with construction and folks cramming to get to the airport. I crept along for about five miserable minutes and then something insane happened. The traffic eased up and I was zooming along towards I-294 and into no traffic whatsoever! What?!?! Waze was right? Humph. Side eye towards my phone, but with a smirk.

So what did I learn? I learned that I still need to work on my control and trust issues, even with electronic gadgets. I need to accept help from others. I need to realize that just because things look and feel really awful in the moment, doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. And that in order for me to get to the good, sometimes, I need to drive like hell through the bad. How about that for a Tuesday morning treat? Have a great day, everyone!

P.S. My early arrival gave me time to pen this essay before work instead of at about 11pm, my usual writing time. Yup. #essayaday #HappyTuesday #productive

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About tinafakhriddeen

Tina Fakhrid-Deen is a writer, LGBTQ family activist, and educator. She enjoys writing young adult and children's literature. She loves her family, nature, learning Spanish, hip-hop culture, and cupcakes.
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