When 5:00 rolls around, most people are giddy about the end of the work day. The end of my work day is bittersweet, however, and today is no exception. I know that I have to get into my sweltering 90s-mobile and get on 131 N with everyone else in the greater Grand Rapids area. Normally, this isn’t that big of a deal. Normally I can assuage the heat exhaustion by blasting some tunes and enjoying the gale-force gusts of wind that come with driving 80 mph with the window down. Normally.
That is, unless it’s summer, when I actually need to have my heat-exhaustion assuaged. Then, of course, there is construction. More specifically in my way is “left lane closed ahead”. This sign strikes terror and anger in me every day when I happen upon it. I know it’s there. I know when to expect it but I still maintain hope that maybe, just maybe they’ll be finished. Of course, we all know that they’ll take their sweet time doing whatever it is they’re doing and possibly finish up by the time snow falls again. And then we’ll all have to go slow to avoid slipping on a snowflake.
So, every evening at 5:00 I join the slow-moving throngs of day-jobbers in rush hour traffic. I guess we should call it “idle hour” traffic (badum?). Those gale-force winds that trick me into thinking it’s not “what’s that rash?” hot in my car don’t come into play when my foot doesn’t even touch the gas. Instead, I get the sun reflected off the black top and magnified through my windshield until my business-casual thigh could fry an egg. Forget passing the time by making eyes at my fellow commuters. My hair is plastered to my forehead and whatever mascara managed to survive the work day is sliding off the sides of my face. Slowly, I begin to resent the other drivers. They have their windows up and smiles on their faces. They have air-conditioning and XM Radio and I’m stuck with the smell of new concrete and the most annoying afternoon DJ I’ve ever heard. Ever. Time passes, “banter” ensues and I seriously consider calling in an Anthrax scare. I realize that Anthrax isn’t a thing anymore and turn back to hating the other drivers.
My hatred is eventually exacerbated by the inevitable dickface who ignores the “Left Lane Closed-One Mile” signs that fruitlessly attempt to speed things along. He’s got places to be and jager-bombs to take, bro. He doesn’t have time for merging respectfully. I can’t stand entitled drivers so I take things into my own hands. I bravely ease my car out so it’s half in the left lane and half in my appropriate lane as yet another cue that the idiot drivers should merge when possible. They don’t. They look at me as if I’m the crazy one and swerve around me. Now, out of ideas and holding back my inner vigilante I begin looking around for a little solidarity. Of course, the other drivers don’t mind a little traffic jam. They have temperature control and “Coffee House Rock”. It’s just me out here. Lone wolf.
Luckily, before I’m able to completely lose my mind I see the tops of buildings and a slight reassurance that there is an end to this mind-melting drive. I’m about to reach my exit. Before I do, I see the billboard that stares me down at the end of every day’s drive. It says “Make Ludington your beach”. Today, like every day I wonder if they intend it to be the lamest billboard of all time: “Make Ludington your beach”. Or, if it’s a clever play on words: “Make Ludington your beach“. It’s something to ponder.
I think I’ll go climb into my freezer now.