SQUISHY COMMUTING

The witty newspaper columnist, Gail Collins, writes about climate change and sea animals. “They’re piling up in Alaska. About 35,000 walruses have formed what looks to be a humongous brown ball along the northern coast. A mass of critters, some weighing 4,000 pounds, are pressed shoulder to shoulder – or flipper to flipper…and the little calves get squished.” New York Times

While working on a job for six months in San Diego my daily travel commute on Interstate 5 was approximately 25 minutes. I merged onto a southern coastal freeway that seemed like a humongous moving ball with speeds up to 85 mph. We slowed down to 5 mph and sped back up to 85 mph three or four times before I exited. We were a mass of insulated critters in vehicles weighing 4000 pounds and pressed door to door – flipper to flipper, and, on occasion, finger to finger.

When I left Los Angeles in the late 60s it seemed like a majority of motorists waved a thank you when drivers slowed down to let them emerge from on-ramps. Those days are long gone in most cities. I don’t know if the commuting turmoil is related to climate change but Phoenix has the highest rate of traffic deaths at signals. They mostly occur during the summer when motorists don’t want to sit in their cars too long in 110-degree weather so they tend to run red lights.

The bigger issue has to do with remaining remote and isolated in our encapsulated soundproof cars no matter how long the commutes. We ignore and rebuff those with whom we travel side by side to and from our workplaces. It had to be different a hundred or so years ago while passing those on horseback or buckboards. There was not a whole lot of squishy traveling in those days. What happens to us when we stay crammed in and focused ahead while driving? Do drivers ever glance at motorists while heading to work or home? Very few seem happy unless they’re singing to themselves or drumming their steering wheels to the beat of their favorite tunes.

How many of us would like to glance at a driver and catch a smile or a wave? What keeps us from being the smiley one or the waver? We tend to mimic or mirror what we see in those speeding next to us.

Albert Camus claimed “The absurd is born of confrontation between the human call and the unreasonable silence of the world.” I happened to follow a motorist off the freeway who had signaled to me a hand gesture that cannot be found in the motor vehicle handbook. Evidently he didn’t realize he had flipped me off on the road with his flipper when we entered a coffee place. I decided to say hello and we began to chat. He turned out to be a rather nice guy. So, I began to sense less indifference among motorists next to me after the encounter. It only lasted for a couple of days but I’m still working on it.

James Russell Lowell penned a poem about roads over a hundred years ago that might help current motorists realize they may ultimately be a degree or two away from being companions beyond their squishy commutes.

 

“As life runs on, the road grows strange

With faces new, and near the end

The milestones into headstones change,

‘Neath every one a friend.” (“Sixty-eighth Birthday,” 1889)

 

 

SQUISHY COMMUTING

 

The witty newspaper columnist, Gail Collins, writes about climate change and sea animals. “They’re piling up in Alaska. About 35,000 walruses have formed what looks to be a humongous brown ball along the northern coast. A mass of critters, some weighing 4,000 pounds, are pressed shoulder to shoulder – or flipper to flipper…and the little calves get squished.” New York Times

While working on a job for six months in San Diego my daily travel commute on Interstate 5 was approximately 25 minutes. I merged onto a southern coastal freeway that seemed like a humongous moving ball with speeds up to 85 mph. We slowed down to 5 mph and sped back up to 85 mph three or four times before I exited. We were a mass of insulated critters in vehicles weighing 4000 pounds and pressed door to door – flipper to flipper, and, on occasion, finger to finger.

When I left Los Angeles in the late 60s it seemed like a majority of motorists waved a thank you when drivers slowed down to let them emerge from on-ramps. Those days are long gone in most cities. I don’t know if the commuting turmoil is related to climate change but Phoenix has the highest rate of traffic deaths at signals. They mostly occur during the summer when motorists don’t want to sit in their cars too long in 110-degree weather so they tend to run red lights.

The bigger issue has to do with remaining remote and isolated in our encapsulated soundproof cars no matter how long the commutes. We ignore and rebuff those with whom we travel side by side to and from our workplaces. It had to be different a hundred or so years ago while passing those on horseback or buckboards. There was not a whole lot of squishy traveling in those days. What happens to us when we stay crammed in and focused ahead while driving? Do drivers ever glance at motorists while heading to work or home? Very few seem happy unless they’re singing to themselves or drumming their steering wheels to the beat of their favorite tunes.

How many of us would like to glance at a driver and catch a smile or a wave? What keeps us from being the smiley one or the waver? We tend to mimic or mirror what we see in those speeding next to us.

Albert Camus claimed “The absurd is born of confrontation between the human call and the unreasonable silence of the world.” I happened to follow a motorist off the freeway who had signaled to me a hand gesture that cannot be found in the motor vehicle handbook. Evidently he didn’t realize he had flipped me off on the road with his flipper when we entered a coffee place. I decided to say hello and we began to chat. He turned out to be a rather nice guy. So, I began to sense less indifference among motorists next to me after the encounter. It only lasted for a couple of days but I’m still working on it.

James Russell Lowell penned a poem about roads over a hundred years ago that might help current motorists realize they may ultimately be a degree or two away from being companions beyond their squishy commutes.

 

“As life runs on, the road grows strange

With faces new, and near the end

The milestones into headstones change,

‘Neath every one a friend.” (“Sixty-eighth Birthday,” 1889)

 

 

 

SQUISHY COMMUTING

 

The witty newspaper columnist, Gail Collins, writes about climate change and sea animals. “They’re piling up in Alaska. About 35,000 walruses have formed what looks to be a humongous brown ball along the northern coast. A mass of critters, some weighing 4,000 pounds, are pressed shoulder to shoulder – or flipper to flipper…and the little calves get squished.” New York Times

While working on a job for six months in San Diego my daily travel commute on Interstate 5 was approximately 25 minutes. I merged onto a southern coastal freeway that seemed like a humongous moving ball with speeds up to 85 mph. We slowed down to 5 mph and sped back up to 85 mph three or four times before I exited. We were a mass of insulated critters in vehicles weighing 4000 pounds and pressed door to door – flipper to flipper, and, on occasion, finger to finger.

When I left Los Angeles in the late 60s it seemed like a majority of motorists waved a thank you when drivers slowed down to let them emerge from on-ramps. Those days are long gone in most cities. I don’t know if the commuting turmoil is related to climate change but Phoenix has the highest rate of traffic deaths at signals. They mostly occur during the summer when motorists don’t want to sit in their cars too long in 110-degree weather so they tend to run red lights.

The bigger issue has to do with remaining remote and isolated in our encapsulated soundproof cars no matter how long the commutes. We ignore and rebuff those with whom we travel side by side to and from our workplaces. It had to be different a hundred or so years ago while passing those on horseback or buckboards. There was not a whole lot of squishy traveling in those days. What happens to us when we stay crammed in and focused ahead while driving? Do drivers ever glance at motorists while heading to work or home? Very few seem happy unless they’re singing to themselves or drumming their steering wheels to the beat of their favorite tunes.

How many of us would like to glance at a driver and catch a smile or a wave? What keeps us from being the smiley one or the waver? We tend to mimic or mirror what we see in those speeding next to us.

Albert Camus claimed “The absurd is born of confrontation between the human call and the unreasonable silence of the world.” I happened to follow a motorist off the freeway who had signaled to me a hand gesture that cannot be found in the motor vehicle handbook. Evidently he didn’t realize he had flipped me off on the road with his flipper when we entered a coffee place. I decided to say hello and we began to chat. He turned out to be a rather nice guy. So, I began to sense less indifference among motorists next to me after the encounter. It only lasted for a couple of days but I’m still working on it.

James Russell Lowell penned a poem about roads over a hundred years ago that might help current motorists realize they may ultimately be a degree or two away from being companions beyond their squishy commutes.

 

“As life runs on, the road grows strange

With faces new, and near the end

The milestones into headstones change,

‘Neath every one a friend.” (“Sixty-eighth Birthday,” 1889)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “SQUISHY COMMUTING

  1. Peggie (BISSELL) Davis

    Dear Pastor Buzz Stevens…Have I the right guy? Methodist Church in Pacific Palisades, California – the 60’s – married a Norwegian exchange student (I think!) was associate pastor to dear Al Smith? I’m not on Facebook if this is you, but my name is Peggie BISSELL Davis and I live in Northern California and you may remember my lovely mother, Dorothy and older sister Patti, not sure…Are you sure you’re old enough to be RETIRED???? (lol) Peggie

    Reply
    1. buzzs1 Post author

      Dear Peggie, so good to get your response, and yes I know and love those mentioned in your note. And of course your mom. I’ve been retired for some time. Hope we can stay in contact. Buzz

      Reply

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