The secret car bubble

By Heather Woods

I think it’s fair to say my driving could be considered schizophrenic. Up and down, left and right – and that’s just my mind, not the steering wheel! My secret car bubble and the behaviour that people rarely see from me, is on full display when I’m in the drivers seat.

I’ve always been a commuter to work, driving in early to avoid the traffic. It was always a fairly swift trip which made me happy and upon arriving to work I’d have some breakfast, go for a walk or just get on with my job and make the most of the extra time.

These days I can’t do the daycare drop-off until 7:30 AM and I’ve found that my commute has doubled in the length of time and is now right in the middle of peak hour traffic.

The first twenty minutes of the trip are spent speaking baby to my baby. Keeping her entertained whilst navigating three lanes of freeway commuters all city-bound and bleary-eyed from the early start.

We’re usually a few minutes early to daycare so I have a precious few minutes of cuddles and kisses before I send her in for the fun I know she has all day long. Secretly I wish she pined for me all day but I know she’s with great people who care for her and teach her little things each visit, so she’s happy to be handed over every morning.

Collecting my large weak latte from the conveniently located cafe right next door, I’m back at my car about 7 minutes after I arrived.

From this point on, my mood can change rapidly with each minute that passes. Laughing at the silly comedy of the breakfast hosts on my radio, I enjoy the first few sips of coffee as I queue in traffic to turn onto the highway again. It’s also usually where I pick up the tail of some cyclists, cursing at them for blocking traffic and causing delays. While I know that a bike is better for the environment (and their fitness) than a car, it frustrates me to no end just how many delays and near accidents they cause, ducking and weaving amongst the traffic. Go on, start the pro-cyclist abuse now, I can take it.

Trying to stay positive, and marvelling at the vibrant purple colour of he Jacaranda trees I usually forget to notice, I hum along to something new and trendy, or an old favourite where I’m the rock star starring in my own live concert. I pass some time thinking about the day ahead, but I’m also acutely aware of exactly how long I’ve been sitting at this bloody intersection!!

Another few sips of coffee and the caffeine is starting to kick in and wake up those brain cells that were still cozily dreaming on my pillow back in bed.
More cyclists, but not before someone turning left decides to veer right into my lane first. What is that?? I will never understand the need to veer in the opposite direction before turning.

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Approaching the bridge, there is about ten lanes merging into three, so there’s lots of pushing and shoving as people navigate their way through. It takes about 20 minutes before I’m finally driving free at normal speed across my favourite bridge. It looks different every day whether it is raining, cloudy, sunny with blue skies – it always amazes me, so grand over the harbour.

Taking the last few turns before reaching work I find a park and shake my head at the cost I know have to pay for parking. Knowing it’s something I just have to deal with, I turn and walk the last few hundred metres down the pier to the office, relishing that I get to work in such a beautiful location. And breathe.

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