It’s an unfortunate fact that a lot of us nowadays have long commutes from home to work. A mere 45 minute trip is multiplied by two daily and then again by five to fill up over seven hours of your weekly “free” time. I spent almost five years driving from Honey Brook to King of Prussia daily. Whew! The PA turnpike definitely gave me a few gray hairs, but over the years I managed to learn a few things that helped me cope and made me less tense when I arrived home to unwind at the end of the day.
- Keep your car in good shape. Some of the most stressful times I had driving were because I didn’t do something that I was “supposed” to do to maintain the car properly. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it….. Well, that doesn’t quite work when you put that much wear and tear on a pile of metal and bolts. So unless you are a mechanic who can diagnose and fix your vehicle on the side of a major highway with trucks zooming past at 80 miles per hour, do yourself a favor and follow the recommended maintenance. At minimum, get your oil changed, check the tire pressure, and always, always make sure you have windshield washer fluid!
- Get situated before you start the car. We are ‘get-up-and-go’ kind of people. Always moving. But before you start your journey, get the things you need so you aren’t fishing around your car (or swerving into other lanes!). This means making sure your sunglasses are easily accessible, getting your phone on the charger or your music/playlist started. Do yourself another favor, defrost the car entirely in winter. Don’t be that crazy person trying to look through a three inch square section of the windshield until the rest of it clears off in a few minutes. You just look ridiculous and you scare the bejesus out of the rest of us.
- Remember patience. You will get there. If things are going slower than you anticipated, don’t honk your horn or stress yourself out. Plan your day...or your evening - if this is the commute home. How often during the day are we allowed to let our minds wander? If you work as hard as the folks at Blue Marsh Insurance, probably not that often. If you aren’t much for planning or daydreaming, use the time to remind yourself why you are doing the long commute in the first place - is the job great? Is your home great and you can’t imagine moving? Is the job/income the reason you are able to live in that great home? Try to keep the benefits of this commute foremost in your mind. If you can see the value in it, you might not mind so much.
- Don’t tailgate. Really, people... keep your distance. I’ve never understood the draw of driving on someone else’s bumper. Getting really, really close to the car in front of you doesn’t get you anywhere! It just requires you to be extra vigilant in case the bozo in front of you driving slow suddenly decides to brake without warning. I like to make things less stressful when I drive.
- Know your route and maybe an alternate or two. Yes, nowadays we all have cell phones that will tell us where to go. We even all have cell phones that will tell us where NOT to go to avoid traffic jams and accidents (does anyone else feel like they’re being watched?!). But nothing gives you better peace of mind than knowing your route all by yourself. And knowing a few alternate routes, too. You never know when you will get diverted off the main road because of maintenance or an accident or even just bad weather. Rather than uncomfortably following the crowd as you are being shuffled down that side road to I-don’t-know-where or having to hastily type in your destination on your phone while trying to decide left or right just to get the person behind you to stop honking. Do your research. Look at a map sometime. Have an idea of the route you are traveling. I guarantee there will come a time one day when you will use that knowledge.
So at the end of the day, I hope you implement a few of the things I’ve listed above. And until you get that dream job where you work out of your house in your pajamas everyday... always, always make sure you have windshield washer fluid!