Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Dreaded Commute

Karma must have had her hand in this one. My last work commute was, quite literally, a pleasant seven-minute stroll which involved greeting both neighbors and students along the way. I openly relished and full-out-gloated to my colleagues who, more often than not, had hour-long commutes with sides of traffic and lots of freeway. Well, dear coworkers, your time has come. I officially have a nasty commute. Allow me to indulge you, as a penance of sorts for the wrongs I inflicted every lunch hour as we chatted.
The official distance from my door to the exact building I teach in is about 2.5 miles. Indeed, it is a distance one would be happy to bike were certain death not a factor. Imagine, dear reader, an ant colony and their comings and goings. Swarming and dispersing, each with its own agenda and specific, chosen route, this is how vehicle travel functions here. I'm still a newbie, but am fairly certain that should traffic laws in fact exist, they are absolutely ignored. Driving is a social contract involving just the right amount of give and take to get you where you need to go, as quickly as possible, without an accident (which are almost always fatal here).
I plan an hour for my journey, unless I get cold feet and splurge 7% of my anticipated day's income on a taxi that takes me from door to door. On my brave days (which have, admittedly, been very few), I walk down my rather quiet street about 1/4 of a mile to the intersection of a bustling two-lane road which is often mistaken for a three-lane highway. If I am lucky, I catch a concho, which are few and far between on this particular stretch. A concho is the poor man's taxi. It has a specific route which it travels back and forth, all the while honking at every pedestrian, often stopping to pick them up. The mornings are quite busy and I've found myself in a concho with 6 other passengers and the driver, sharing physical intimacies I normally prefer to save for my husband. These aren't spacious New York cabs, they're tired, 1987 Toyota Corolas with a sticker slapped on the side for officiality.
From there, I'm dropped another mile down the road onto the main (and actual) highway, Autopista Duarte (Mom, don't Google image that highway). I then wave down another concho to take me ever closer to the university and to the worst part of my commute: playing Frogger just like George in that Seinfeld episode, but with a few added obstacles. What obstacles, you ask? Oh, just two separate, cement freeway dividers and a fence spanning 6 lanes. No biggie.
Forget about arriving to work looking fresh and professional. I'm thrilled to arrive with a pulse. Were I single, I would have found myself a boyfriend with a car by now. Here's hoping I can find a taxista who desperately wants to trade an hour a week of English tutoring for a lift every morning. Wish me luck!

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