Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oh, The Joys of Commuting

This is not I-495 Between "Up North" and "Down South"
(But it sure felt like it Monday afternoon!)
I have the distinct feeling that today's post is going to be all over the place. It's just one of those days. Your first clue is that the title of the post apparently has nothing to do with the opening photo. The two may or may not link up during the course of the next few paragraphs. It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to write what my muse commands me to write.

Spent Monday at Forward Operating Location (FOL) North (which is where I've been exiled working for the past 2 and a half years - for you newcomers and forgetful types, check out The Penguins, that post provides the background) The trip home was, shall we say, less than amusing.

There are two major routes to get from FOL North to Chez Sarge. One leads through the Boston metro area and is really a crap shoot as regards the time to travel that way. I also have a vow in place to never again travel within the Boston metro area unless dire necessity dictates otherwise. (Dire necessity is usually in the form of one of the progeny coming home for a visit with the phrase "But Dad, the tickets into Logan were $100 cheaper." Sigh...) Interstate 495 defines the boundaries of what I call the Boston metro area. Right or wrong, it's my blog, etc., etc.

The other route is approximately ten miles longer and is mostly a rather bucolic setting. Normally it is not encumbered with too much traffic and normally flows very smoothly from my point of view. (My point of view is that if I can average 50 mph, that's smooth.)

Monday afternoon there were at least two traffic accidents on my way home which brought traffic to nearly a screaming halt (i.e., anything less than an average speed of 50 mph). Now I'm not saying that I-95 southbound looked like the photo above, but it certainly brought that situation to mind as I crawled along wondering why the idiot in front of me felt the need to leave ten car lengths between her and the driver in front of her. While the needle on the trusty speedometer in Big Girl scarcely moved off the bottom peg for what seemed like millennia.

Hey, whaddaya know, the title and the photo did link up. Of course, as I was writing this I did change the title. Decided to go with one rant versus another. Rather than rewrite the first paragraph, I changed the title of the post. Ah, the power of artistic license. (Right, like this is "art"! Harrummphh!)

So, where was I? Oh yeah, the lady in the vehicle in front of me and the speedometer seeming to not register any form of forward movement. Now before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, I'm not admonishing the female drivers out there. I've seen males of the species perform way stupider acts on the highway than any member of the gentler sex ever has. It's just that the vehicle in front of me was being operated by a woman. It could have been a guy, that doesn't really matter. I identify the driver as female simply in the interests of truth and accurate reporting. (Oh dear, I've drifted off my point again.)

So traffic was backed up from horizon to horizon. A very long line of glittering steel and plastic stretched before me and behind me. I longed for a decent cross country vehicle with cool weapon systems mounted there upon. Maybe a Bradley or some other cool looking Armored Personnel Carrier (APC). Something with which I could "shoot and scoot" with a certain amount of style and panache. But no, I'm stuck in traffic. While Big Girl has a fairly decent cross-country capability, the local constabulary and property owners frown  upon vehicles leaving the roadway.

As we crawled along (by the way, the weather was gorgeous, any traffic delays ahead of me were not due to inclement weather) I speculated as to the cause of this glitch in an otherwise nice drive. Perhaps it's road construction - it is that time of year. Perhaps it's a traffic accident - people in this area tend to drive like complete freaking loons. I pondered this as we would move approximately 3 car lengths every five minutes. And the lady ahead of me let more and more cars pull in front of her. What was she thinking? Hhhmm, if I let people pull in front of me, I'll get home faster. If I let people pull in front of me, some fabulously wealthy individual will note my kindness and give me a bazillion dollars for being so thoughtful. Who knows?

Eventually I did move far enough to discover the cause of this annoying delay in my efforts to return to Chez Sarge before sundown. It was a traffic accident. There were two cars stopped in the far left lane with another pulled onto the right shoulder. And a few chaps standing around looking thoughtful. Everyone had their emergency flashers activated. No doubt a good idea to prevent someone traveling at the nose-bleed velocity of 5 miles an hour plowing into their stopped vehicles.

As I managed to slide out of the blocked lane and crawl past the scene of the crime I noted something. First of all, there was minimal damage to either stopped vehicle. It looked like a minor bumper to bumper contact. No parts strewn about the roadway, no bodies sprawled on the verge. Just a very minor fender bender. The sort of thing that in kinder gentler days would have led to a swapping of insurance information and mutual apologies. Not anymore. I'm sure the two, ahem, "gentlemen" involved were awaiting the arrival of investigators and lawyers. At least no one was holding their neck and hollering "whip lash".

Eventually, after what felt like weeks, the scene of the "accident" was cleared and traffic returned to a more comfortable pace. Until I'd gone about two miles. There to join another traffic queue, which stretched (again) to the far horizon.

Another accident had occurred. But this one looked far more serious at least in terms of damage. There were no ambulances on scene. There were a number of state troopers at the scene, looking for all the world like they were at a loss in trying to determine what had taken place.

For there was a lot of debris scattered along the shoulder, like a small truck had decided to eject all of its cargo. There also was extensive damage to the guard rail. But there was no vehicle which had impacted said guard rail and ejected the contents of the vehicle along the road side. I realized that the vehicle and its occupant(s) had been removed from the scene. I'm guessing that the vehicle had already been towed/hauled away and any occupants had also been taken to the hospital. But what a mess.

Once that accident scene was cleared it was smooth sailing the rest of the way. The traffic delays had been sufficient to allow rush hour traffic in Providence to subside so that hurdle was readily cleared.

Eventually I arrived at Chez Sarge to the cheers and acclamation of my two feline friends (who were noting that the dinner hour had long passed.) Yup, I was home, safe and sound. After a trip which took 3 and a half hours. A trip which normally takes 2 hours. Ah yes, the joys of commuting!


  1. Being home safe and sound, albeit an hour and a half late, is better than standing on the verge talking to some of Massachusetts' Finest. Or getting a free ride in a large Ford van painted white-with-red-stripes-and-flashing-lights.


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