urban experimentation: driving

The setup: I wasn’t going to get a ride to the Metro today. I couldn’t sleep because I was freaking out about things that needed done at work today. I was up at 6:30. I was ready to go to work around 7:15. At that point, my options lay before me like the opening minutes of the Country Kitchen Buffet, pre-soiling from the elderly and morbidly obese.

The process: I got to the car and it hit me … Jacque, you could TOTALLY drive to work today.

(Time out: Jacque? Are you insane? Don’t you understand the reason people use the Metro is to AVOID the headache of driving to work every day? I mean, really, Jacque. What the hell?”

The process, continued: After realizing I needed to put gas in the car anyway, my fate was all but sealed. I sat in the Shell parking lot next to my apartment building and turned my eyes to Jill, the name of my Garmin navigation device. I’ll admit, at this point, I’d almost talked myself out of it. I weighed the fact that the train was easy, passive, I could be at the station in five minutes, downtown 35 minutes after that …

(To quote Crow, from “Mystery Science Theatre 3000: The Movie” — “Well, Mike, I calculated the odds of this succeeding against the odds that I was doing something incredibly stupid and, well, I went ahead anyway.)

7:52 a.m.: I’m still driving toward the Metro at this point. I’ve still got, easily, three chances to completely bail out on this experiment.

7:54 a.m.: Metro turnoff missed. On Kenilworth. Exit to Beltway in 0.6 miles, according to Jill. At this point, turning around with be far too big of a headache. I’ve ripped off the Band-Aid. I’m committed to bleeding.

7:56 a.m.: On Capital Beltway South, headed toward exit 22B, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. (Well, a scenic drive will be nice, at least. It’s quite scenic.)

8:01 a.m.: Off exit smoothly, but oh … that’s where the traffic is. Hrm. Yep. That’s … where the traffic was hiding. No big deal. Jill says it’s only 5.6 miles on this road, and then to New York Avenue for another 5 miles. I’m only 10 miles away. This is awesome.

8:06 a.m.: I’ve gone 15 feet.

8:07 a.m.: I’ve not moved, but far ahead of me I can see cars moving. I’m also noticing that people in the DC-area … can’t drive.

8:13 a.m.: I’ve gone 15 feet. At this point in the game, we start what I like to call, “Choice Remorse.” That’s the key moment in any process where you think to yourself, “OK, this MAY have been a bad idea,” but because you’re the most stubborn person you know, you refuse to admit you might have made a bad choice.

8:14 a.m.: “From Richmond to Baltimore … from the Chesapeake to the Shenandoah … “

8:16 a.m.: I’ve gone 15 feet.

8:21 a.m.: I’m amazed at the dexterity of this little blue Honda Civic that artfully darts between lanes to go absolutely nowhere. I’m even more amazed when I see the “Baby On Board” danglie and the sun screens. Great parenting, Mom. Cutting off box trucks with your infant in the back and laying on the horn is setting some fantastic framework for “Future Douchebag Commuters of America.”

8:27 a.m.: I’ve gone 15 feet.

8:36 a.m.: I’m at the exit for New York Avenue. Which would really be great if I was moving.

8:39 a.m.: WOO! How about that. Once you actually get IN the District of Columbia, it only marginally sucks to drive. I notice that I’m in “northeast” and I pass by the XM building. Ah, XM building. I’ll be back. You just wait. Someday, I’ll be coming to work at your place with an open mic.

8:44 a.m.: Alright, Jill. Thanks. Thanks for those faulty directions. Thanks for that. Now that traffic circle I need is that overpass ABOVE me and I’m heading somewhere you’re not prepared for. FAN-tastic.


8:48 a.m.: I’m somewhere near Q Street. I have no idea how this happened. I’m not on speaking terms with Jill. I’m also amazed that more people on bicycles don’t die in this down. I’ve been grazed by two. I will give them props for their fearlessness.

8:49 a.m.: OK, finally. Vermont Avenue. ROCK. I can get to work from here.

8:50 a.m.: Hey, Jill, thanks for telling me I have to turn right on the little street and not the main road. Now I can’t turn right, even though I’M SITTING NEXT DOOR TO MY OFFICE. I HATE YOU JILL. I HATE YOU SO MUCH.

8:54 a.m.: I’m on Connecticut. I’d be moving quicker, but I can see why people have a hard time driving near Metro stations with herds of people walking off at once. Note to self: Stop crossing the street like an asshole. It’s not fair to the people in cars.

8:58 a.m.: It dawns on me at this point, I’m no longer going to get the early bird special at the parking garage. I give Jill the middle finger.

9:01 a.m.: Corner of 15th and K. In the right lane. Ready to turn right. If only the f-ing light would change.

9:04 a.m.: Parking garage. Four minutes late. $6 dollars more. Story of my life.

The conclusion: While I’m not ready to label this “epic fail” I do see the benefits of the Metro. Had I just not embarked on this little journey, I would have been downtown before 8:30. However, had I not just taken the blind jump, I never would have had this experience, and to me, experience is far more valuable than the time I would have saved just sitting there with my iPod. The only bonus I’m seeing is that when I leave here tonight around 7:30 p.m., I’ll have next to no traffic outbound and I should get home in about half the time it would take me to ride the Metro. I’ll have to update with the results of that leg of the journey later.


6 Responses to “urban experimentation: driving”

  1. 1 Ashlea
    September 16, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    That is awesome! I tried to tell you!!!! Experience…I’m not patient enough to enjoy the experience. I’d be pissed. Douche! 🙂

  2. 2 girlofwords
    September 16, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Oh, I’m pissed. I’m pissed that Jill made me miss the ONE TURN that would have put me IN that garage by 9 a.m. Siiiiigh.

  3. September 16, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Brilliant! I read this to the ladies I’m vacationing with and we were all in hysterics!

  4. 4 Ann
    September 16, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    Way to do it for the story 🙂

  5. 5 girlofwords
    September 16, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    You know … I’m really glad I did it. I know that seems INSANE, but I’m really glad I had that experience. If I’m going to spend a few years here, I don’t want to leave at the end and say, “You know, I really wish I would have driven to work at least once.”

    For the trip home: Easy as pie. I only got confused with Jill once and she had me turn right at the corner of Crack and Cocaine in NE, I went down some entirely too sketchy side road for 0.8 miles and then I was back on the right path. The rest of the way was great. I had my mother on the phone cracking up at my misadventures with commuting.

  6. September 17, 2008 at 1:38 am

    Crack and Cocaine; I think I’ve drove through there once. I ran the light, of course 🙂

    Beltway traffic is just horrifying. It’s pretty frightening to see that many lanes of traffic all at a dead halt. Just goes show that you can’t pave your way out of congestion…


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