60. The Commute to Work

I drove to work for nearly 30 years.  Only briefly did I ever have a passenger along.  There was always some excuse for that.  My hours were often strange or I lived in places where no one else lived.  Of course that meant I couldn’t use the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes so I always did a good amount sitting and watching.

Contrary to popular belief, commuting was sometimes a very entertaining activity.  On any given morning you will see women (young and old) doing their makeup while also driving at speeds from 0 mph (at a stop light) to 65 mph on the interstate.  You will see men with a fascinating pre-occupation with the newspaper at speeds from 0 mph at a stoplight to 65 mph on the interstate.  I did most of my commuting before the smart phone and the car/phone sync, so there were many opportunities to see people so involved in their phone conversation that they completely forgot they were only allowed to use one lane at a time.

Then there were the more organic entertainments.  It always seemed that the morning commute was the favorite time to pick your nose, clean your ears, or shave with an electric razor.  I even saw a guy brushing his teeth one morning.  Once all of those activities, usually done upstairs in the bathroom, were completed the wide variety of breakfast items would start to appear.  Everyone had coffee of course, but there was the sandwich, the Danish, the sweet-roll, the coffeecake, the orange juice, and the toast.  I even saw a guy eating a bowl of cereal, complete with milk and a spoon, in city traffic.  He was pretty good at it too!

Then there were some really bizarre things that left you shaking your head.  On more than one occasion, I’ve seen a full coffee cup, a pocketbook, or a shopping bag on the roof of a car as it was going down the road.  The driver was oblivious to what he/she had done and often happy that people were waving and pointing as though they were just being friendly.  In the 80s and 90s, I began to see the vanity license plates emerge.  This was the modern replacement for the old-fashioned bumper sticker.  These were curious combinations of numbers and letters that left your head scratching.  There were several occasions where a driver was trying so hard to figure out the meaning of the plate in front of him that he couldn’t stop in time and rear-ended the car.  I guess then he could just get out and ask what it meant.

The strangest thing I ever saw during a morning commute actually happened to me.  When we moved to Virginia I had a white 1984 Olds Cutlass 2-door.  It had a sloping front nose that created a 12” space between the radiator and the bumper with a flat vinyl flap that kept water and debris from splashing up on the radiator.  I parked my car outside then, and one summer morning I got in the car and started to work.  I had driven about a mile or so and I thought I saw something moving on the hood, but dismissed it thinking it was just the hood ornament.  Another mile or so and I saw it again, only this time it was getting bigger.  By this time I was going about 55 mph down the highway in traffic.  The thing that I saw on my hood was a Black Snake.  Now I’m really not a snake person.  We had just moved to Virginia and this was the first one I had ever seen.  Because of the cold weather, I never saw a snake when I was growing up on Cape Cod.

This snake had been resting comfortably in the nose of the car until I had disturbed him by starting the car.  Generally, Black Snakes like an environment that is quiet and calm.  The hood of my car going 60 mph does not qualify for that, and my six-foot long passenger was getting increasingly irritated.  In an effort to escape his situation, he began slithering up the hood toward me!  This was an excellent time for some ingenious quick thinking.  My mind was completely blank.  There were no places to pull over and I thought, ‘what would I do after I pulled over?

Therefore, I kept driving while trying to think of what to do.  A number of people passed me on the highway, pointed and laughed, and kept driving.  This wasn’t my coffee on the roof; this was a predator crawling up my hood.  By then, my passenger was almost up to my windshield and I had the sense that he wasn’t very happy.  Wait, windshield, that’s it!

Fortunately, I had reached the part of my commute where I could drive a lot faster.  Mr. Snake and I were going for a little ride.  I bumped it up to 65 mph and he really didn’t like that, but he was still hanging on and getting closer.  I bumped it up to 70 mph and he was ON the windshield and not doing well.  I bumped it to 75 mph and that was too much for him.  He spun off the car like a javelin and through my mirror, I watched him land in the median.  It was at this point that I started to laugh and I couldn’t stop for the next couple of miles to work.

When I walked into work, my boss looked at his watch and said, “you’re in early, everything all right?”  “Yes, everything’s fine, thanks.”  I laughed the rest of the day thinking of all those commuters around me that morning who would be telling the story of this crazy dude in a nice blue suit, driving a white Cutlass with a Black Snake on his hood.

© J T Weaver

Related Posts:    RaSHi    The Buck    Big Yogi    Myrtle  Great Horned Owl

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About J T Weaver

The author of "Uphill Both Ways," a thought provoking series of stories about life, family, and growing up.
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36 Responses to 60. The Commute to Work

  1. Mr. Snake takes the cake!

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  4. irkitated says:

    The morning commute is definately not the most enjoyable part of the day! Ive just written a blog post on exactly the same topic http://www.irkitated.com/2013/08/the-morning-commute-to-job-you-hate.html although you pointed out so many more things that I didn’t even think about including!

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  5. aj vosse says:

    Hope the snake survived his morning commute! 😉

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  6. Poor snake. He probably would have been happy to pick his nose and shave as long as you stayed below 50 mph! ;). How very funny that this happened to you! I would have had a fit and probably would have done donuts on the highway at the sight of it. Awesome story. 🙂

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  7. I like your sense of humor! Nice read.

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  8. carlisdm says:

    wow this post was really funny 🙂 I have to admit that I have done my makeup while driving and also have eaten my breakfast as well. What I really can´t do is to be on the phone while driving, I don´t know why but I can´t, I have to pullover if possible or just answer very quickly and say that I´ll return the call, or sometimes I won´t even answer…. I guess when I talk I concentrate too much on the talking and I know it may be dangerous for driving. ….
    P.S. The make up I only do it at traffic light stop 🙂

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  9. LOL! High tension. I breathed a sigh of relief when I was able to ascertain that the snake was not somehow crawling up the inside of the hood and getting into the car 😉 A bit disturbing how many people you have observed, not actually staying focused on the road on the way to work though – glad you’ve stayed safe all these years of commuting – stay safe!

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    • J T Weaver says:

      Yes, each of my observations were about 1 second each or less, then a shake of the head, then a grin and most of them crawling along in traffic somewhere. The highways are a crazy place for sure.

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  10. Mary Ann says:

    Fun read to start my day. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Chatty Owl says:

    Wow! I would have been so scared. Never saw a snake in wild ever in my life, let alone in circumstances like yours! Brave man 🙂

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  13. OMG! Okay, I can understand laughing after, but I’m sure you weren’t laughing during that commute.

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    • J T Weaver says:

      Well, I had a couple of miles left after Mr. Snake departed, so after a large “Whew!”, I started to grin, then smile, then chuckle, … the more I thought about it the funnier it got.

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  14. ksbeth says:

    this is hilarious!

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  15. mgrmmydiary says:

    An interesting read.
    Like your positive attitude of transforming “10 minutes of sheer panic to 20 years of laughter”!

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  16. Cindy Wayland says:

    It IS amazing what you’ll see when you’re driving — whether it is commuting to/from work or a road trip with the family! But a snake!! Coming out from under the hood and heading toward you (albeit with a windshield separating you from it)!!! Argh! Glad you were able to ditch that stowaway!

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  17. grannyK says:

    I have to admit, snakes, lizards and frogs fascinate me…BUT…I don’t want one on my car..lol. Fun post!

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  18. msplayful says:

    VERY enjoyable read! Thanks!

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  19. socialbridge says:

    Brilliant! Thank goodness we don’t have snakes here in Ireland, after reading that!

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