Traffic in Chicago has been beyond bad. How bad is beyond bad? Really. Bad.
Every day during the week, Cole and I provide transportation to and from camp for our day-camp pups. We travel about 100 city miles through Chicago’s neighborhoods. Daily, we overcome the trials and tribulations of city traffic, including countless detours due to construction, the POTUS travel schedule (Mr. President, arriving in Chicago during rush hour is a poor travel choice), and Wrigley Field. The home of the Chicago Cubs is in the same neighborhood many of our campers call home. Cubs play. We detour. Again.
I drive through the traffic while Cole and Waze* navigate us around traffic. Our routes are planned with precision, and our timing is down to a science. We are traffic warriors! But our good humor is running on empty. Over the last couple of weeks, our commute time has doubled. Heavy traffic can be a reason for car accidents. Although the speed is rather low and the injuries are not that serious, you should not even think of the question ‘do you need emergency care after an auto accident?’ as medical care is a must, and you should have a check-up to make sure there are no hidden injuries.
Consider these options recently presented by Waze: 4 miles in 18 minutes or 1.9 miles in 21 minutes. My solution? Park the car, drink a Starbucks, and let Cole run the pup home. He’s able to run an 8-minute mile. A round-trip, 16-minute run would cut our time by 2 minutes. And 2 minutes in traffic is significant. He declined, testily reminding me that stops for water would even the times out. He needs to get faster. On we drove through the unbearable traffic. We were road weary and miserable, and there wasn’t a darn thing we could do about it. Or was there?
Change of direction: What if I choose to be happy in traffic instead of miserable? I can’t change traffic, but I can change my reaction to it. My aha moment arrived when I realized that traffic wasn’t making me miserable; my thoughts about traffic were making me miserable. And my thoughts belong to ME. I can change them any time I want to. And I wanted to! I hate to be miserable. So I decided to be happy. And this choice has made a world of difference in our daily commute. Instead of screaming, “We will never get there!!” I put a grin on my face and say, “Every time I push the gas pedal, we are getting there!!” It works. We always reach our final destination! And then my grin is as big as a Chicago pothole. Thats. Big!
Cole can’t always picture traffic parting for us like the Red Sea. He mumbles under his breath when I shout out, “Lucky us! We get to take another detour. And it’s free!” But I just pass him the snacks and carry on. If he wants to direct traffic with his middle finger, I encourage him to go for it. Whatever makes him happy.
Along with choosing to be happy in traffic, we’ve also chosen to add fun to our commute. We wave back with enthusiasm at people waving down cabs (especially confusing to tourists). We yell out compliments to pedestrians (“Love your shoes!”). It’s fun to pretend the people crossing at lights are fashion-show models. We evaluate as many combinations of outfits as we can before the light changes to green.
The traffic is still what it is. Awful. But we are arriving at our final destinations in a much better mood, and enjoying each other and the rides more along the way, all of which makes time and traffic seem to move more quickly. And that makes both driver and navigator grin. BIG!
Chicago Traffic, you are not the boss of us! So there! Go Cubs!
Odd Loves Company,
Waze is our navigation app. We find it’s real people, real time reports invaluable. Cole is Waze Royalty. A title bestowed on you when you have accrued enough Waze miles. Other than truck drivers, few achieve this level of Waze. I’m a proud Mom. If you are a Wazer too, let us know, so we can beep at each other!