The Worst Commute Home - Ever

Last week I mentioned how on Tuesday, January 11 (1/11/11, anyone???) it took me three hours to get home.

I've had my fair share of horrible commutes in the past.  I live a solid 15 miles from my workplace, and unlike my husband - who travels 12 or so miles away from the city and further into the countryside - I drive straight towards the city.  Not only straight towards the city but I essentially have to go through downtown Pittsburgh and then onto Pittsburgh "other downtown," Oakland, which has it's own share of traffic nightmares.

So on 1/11/11, I left work at my normal time - 4:45 p.m. - after watching it snow for much of the afternoon.  The roads didn't look great, but at least from the view from my office, traffic was moving.  I cleaned off my car and headed out, traveling down Forbes Avenue.  In less than a minute I was stopped, and I should have known right then and there that it was going to be a bad night - Fifth Avenue was so backed up that it had backed up onto Forbes Avenue. 

It took me about 30 minutes to get onto Fifth, and all I could see was an ocean of red brake lights.  Nothing was really moving.  It would creep along at once seemed to be about one inch per minute.  I hit Facebook and Twitter and wrote some posts lamenting the horrible traffic.  The story seemed to be the same for everyone - traffic just plain sucked. 

After I exhausted those two distractions I tried to resume listening to my book on tape - Memoirs of a Geisha, which I should say is an incredible, captivating novel that has had me intrigued for my commutes the past week or so.  But I was too angry to listen.  I just wanted to move.

By this time it was about 5:30 - 45 minutes on the road - and I talked to DH for awhile, trying to figure out a game plan.  He went on google maps to assess the traffic backups on the roads I was trying to get to and it didn't look good.  Instead of red, which is the color they usually use for really bad traffic, it was black.  Black means NO MOVEMENT.  This was bad.. very, very bad.

I contemplated heading back to work, but I absolutely hated that idea.  I had already spent this much time making this much progress and just turning around and heading back only to sit in my office seemed like losing in a really big way.  I continued inching along Fifth until I was nearing the Boulevard of the Allies.  It was about 6:05 at this point and I had already been on the road for one hour and twenty minutes.  I wanted to cry. And I had to pee.

This was the point of no return.  If I got onto the Boulevard, there was no turning back.  There's really no where to pull off, no where to stop for the bathroom, no where to go but forward.  Once you're between their cattle drive concrete barriers, you're committed. 

It was around this time that I started to think about ways that I could go to the bathroom in my car, without making too much of a scene, or too much of a mess.  Two minutes later I snapped back to reality and realized that if I was thinking about ways to go to the bathroom in my car, then I clearly could not continue.  I was nearly passed my last chance to get back onto Forbes Avenue, so I took the turn, merged onto Forbes and pulled up in front of the Arby's.

I was pissed to be at Arby's.  But at least I could go to the bathroom.  And at least I could eat.  I ordered a meal and sat down.  It was tasty but I was really too unhappy to be there to enjoy it.  It was also freezing in there. 

Dear Arby's of Oakland - Please turn your heat up.  Your patrons are freezing and it makes the food go cold really quickly.  Cold fast food is nasty.  Thanks.

Anyway, I ate as slow as I possibly could, and then lamented my situation on Facebook.  A half dozen people tried to cheer me up by saying, "Arby's fries sound amazing!"  I quickly shot them down. "I should have been home an hour ago and yet I'm less than a mile from my workplace eating cold Arby's.  It is NOT amazing." 

Around 7 p.m. I couldn't sit in Arby's any longer.  It was time to face the traffic again.  In the end, I was glad that I decided to make my pit stop.  I seriously would have peed the car at some point if I tried to keep going, and I'm not sure that I would have gotten home any quicker.   I left at 7 and traffic still was not great, but I did make it home in 45 minutes, which is my normal commute time on a good day.  I walked in my door shortly after 7:45 p.m.  I had left work at 4:45.  Needless to say, I was pissed.  And exhausted. 

It's times like these when I really start considering looking for employment closer to my home. But the problem with working in higher ed is that there are only so many colleges, and the colleges are in the city.  I'm stuck working in the city.  Probably forever.  I need to learn to better utilize my PTO (vacation days.)  I save a lot of them up so that I can use them "when I need them," and I really should have used one that afternoon to take a half day and leave at noon.  I could have beaten the traffic and been curled up on my couch at home while everyone else was sitting in that horrible traffic.   I always somehow talk myself out of it - "It won't be so bad," or "I'll make it."  But it is always bad, and even if I eventually make it, making it after 3 hours of driving is NOT ok. 

Prior to this experience, two hours and 15 minutes was my longest commute ever.  I beat that by 45 minutes. If I ever beat this new record, then it's definitely time to find a new profession.  I'm thinking farming, or perhaps doggie day care.  What do you think?


Corinne said...

oh my goodness. I in no way understand how frustrating that drive was - but i can somewhat relate. Russ came to pick me up that day because I was sick (trying to save the dang PTOs for a Europe vaca) and to go to highland park...literally 3-4 miles down the road took us 1 hour. blech.
as much as i want it to snow like a blizzard, I want it to wait until 6pm :)

Ms2Mrs..and back to Ms said...

Ugh that sucks! I'm so sorry to hear about your hellish commute. I'm so over this winter and its only January. We still have like 3 more months of this crap. Glad you made it home safely.

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