Chicago Traffic: You’re Not the Boss of Me

Chicago Traffic

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!

8 thoughts on “Chicago Traffic: You’re Not the Boss of Me

  1. Love this. What a great way to handle traffic. I don’t like being miserable either and might have to try your approach. I especially like how you have fun along the way. Snacks for me would be key.

    • Try it! It works. Snacks are key to everything. Have you tried those onion thingys in a can? Available at most gas stations! I like Buggles too.

  2. Sorry about your traffic tangles. Cole might want to go in training. 22 minutes to drive 2 miles?
    I’m positive that I will never live in that kind of traffic. Who runs your department of transportation?
    Snacks. I miss El Morno’s food of the day. Any chance you’ll be sharing soon?
    Be back soon.

    • I suggested he start running track. Why are kids so darn lazy these days?
      Snacks. Yes, there is a chance. I miss food days too!
      Have a great day.

  3. Waze is the best, I never leave home without it. I am very impressed that Cole is a Waze Royal.
    Sounds like you do have fun despite the really bad traffic. I live in Atlanta and can feel your pain about detours and poor planning. Somedays it is impossible to get from where we are to where we want to go. Liking traffic seems like an impossible task but I might look for more ways to make the drive fun.
    This was an inspiring and humorous read. Thanks!

    • Waze is the best. Although I do argue with it from time to time.
      Snacks are key to making the drive more fun and podcasts! Good Luck!

  4. I got a huge laugh out of this one — “If he wants to direct traffic with his middle finger, I encourage him to go for it. Whatever makes him happy.” — and as the mom of a son, it totally rang true!

    Poor Domer, too, has done a lot of complaining about the “Big City” traffic. It wasn’t near as congested at his previous job, nor was there as much construction. Or idiotic drivers. However, he passes his commute grousing to me from speaker phone (negates a bit of the “cursing” when Mom’s on the other end, ha!)

    Sounds as if you and Cole have a workable solution. Carry on, good soldiers!

    • I wish my kid would drive less aggressively and compassionately but if wishes were horse mothers would ride (or something like that).
      Last night we were so excited that the Cubs were not playing at home, only to find out the concert Phish had taken over Wrigley Field. We carried on with a Starbucks 😀

Comments are closed.