My morning drive to work takes me 23-minutes and 52-seconds on a good day. Considering, however, that there are almost no good days, I'm lucky to make the trip in less than a half-hour or 45-minutes most of the time. I have become wiser in my old age and have just come to accept that there is nothing I can do to reduce the amount of time that I spend on the road and I must try to make the most of the situation.
I take advantage of the opportunity to prepare, mentally, for the day ahead of me. I want to be sure to not be distracted when driving but, because there is less driving and more crawling, very slowly along the highway, I can get away with some minor brain-activity like practicing a speech, memorizing multiplication tables or analyzing the previous night's reality show episode and trying to handicap the odds of each contestant being eliminated off the island, dance floor or stage the next week. On days when the sun is out or when it is raining I can catch up on some reading or get in a game of Texas Hold 'em on my cel phone. If I am lucky enough that there is a fender-bender going the other way, I actually have enough time to do some laps around adjacent cars or take a quick nap before a fellow commuter notices I have dozed off and politely reminds me what we are here for with a friendly toot of his or her horn.
All kidding aside, as seen in yesterday's post, I'm an Excellent Driver, I am a big proponent of eliminating the distractions we all face while trying to operate a motor vehicle. I am also a believer that, although cel phones have received most of the attention, something as simple as glancing away to change the radio station or adjust the climate controls can be distracting enough to cause an accident.
I am fortunate, though, to own a 2006 Toyota Prius that, for safety's sake more than comfort, has most controls for every system in the car, literally, right at your fingertips. Besides the usual turn signals, lights, windshield wipers and cruise control levers mounted on the steering column, the automakers embedded controls for the heater/air conditioner and, most importantly, the audio system, right on the steering wheel. With the additional features of a LED instrument panel on top of the dashboard, up at the windshield instead of lower on the dash, I rarely have to take my eyes off of front and center, much less, my hands off the wheel.
The radio in the car is important to me because I think I would be more distracted by it not being there. Let me try to explain... when I am by myself, without some kind to mental stimulation, my mind starts to wander. Having a creative imagination, this isn't usually a concern unless, of course, I start to wander into a thought that makes me anxious because, no matter how ridiculous the concept may sound, if my anxiety takes over, it very quickly becomes real to me and I start obsessing about all the negative possibilities until I become overwhelmed with what is going on in my mind and forget about everything else that is going on around me.
So... I listen to the stereo when I drive to work. I often listen to one of three AM talk stations-- one news, one sports and one variety. I'm not sure if my reasons for doing so are because it is just a natural instinct thing that one starts listening to talk radio when they start getting old or if it is a security thing that I know what I am going to get when I listen to these stations: news- mostly bad in this day and age, but they try (mostly unsuccessfully) to put a positive spin on things; sports- mostly bad in this town, but they try (mostly unsuccessfully) to be funny and entertaining; and variety- is a little less predictable depending on the guest and subject of the day could be anything from gossip or fortunetellers to current events and interviews with entertainers or political leaders.
You would think that music stations would be a little more predictable, but I have found that is not the case-- especially during morning drive time. I have a total of 12-pre-set stations that I have programmed on the car stereo. Because I like a very wide variety of music, so I basically have each of those pre-sets on a different genre station-- classic rock, pop, easy listening, R&B, jazz, etc. I even have Christian music and Hip Hop stations programmed in for when MLW is in the car and the Disney Station set for when M3S is with me.
Monday morning, for a change of pace, I felt like listening to one of the twelve music stations instead of the three talk stations, mainly because even the sports guys were discussing the upcoming presidential election. I have heard about enough discussion of our two candidates to last until the 2016 campaign that I would be willing, at this point, to commit my vote to the guy that promises to pull all of the negative advertisements, honestly give their position on the real issues and then shut their trap. But I digress...
In the first 2o-minutes of my commute, I was surprised to find nothing worth listening to. An almost constant cycle through eleven (I just couldn't bring myself to try the Hip-Hop that early in the morning) music channels and I could find no music! I would have even resorted to Worship music or gospel hymns on my wife's or the Jonas Brothers on the kid's favorites, but even they were broadcasting talk-- or should I say static and talk (neither has a very strong signal). Some of the others run big production, syndicated, super-crazy morning shows that you expect a lot of teams of hosts and their wild shenanigans, but a just couldn't believe that no one was playing any thing close to music for such a long period of time.
Granted that I was flipping through all of those channels and about three-quarters of the way through my trip I was frustrated enough to try the scan button to see if I could find anything anywhere else (nothing but the end of a classical tune and something that I think was a Hindu love song) so I could have missed a very, very short song, but it would have had to be timed just perfectly-- nothing else but politics, commercials and political commercials.
Oh... and Christmas music, of all things! There is a station in this town that has gone to all Holiday music... in October. I expect they will continue with that format through December but, if they are doing it now, they might as well play it all year long!
I was about to give up because it had been a good traffic day and I was almost to work when I came upon the sweet sound of a ringing acoustic guitar chord. It only took a few seconds to recognize the harmonized vocals of Extreme with their 1990 chart-topping hit "No More Words"-- I love that song!
As I pulled into my parking spot on the side of the building, the rock ballad was coming to it's end. I sat there for a few seconds to soak in the last little bit and see if the station would follow that classic with another cool tune. Imagine my astonishment when they went with... an Extreme Two-for! Hole Hearted! Sweet! The only thing that was going to beat that on a Monday A.M. is to get to hear some other obscure one-or-two-hit wonder like Nelson or Zebra!
My morning had gone from worst-to-first and now I could go in and start my work day with a song in my head and a smile on my face. After all of that searching and searching, I stumbled onto a little piece of heaven right here on... the Oldies station? There must be some mistake! If music on the charts when I was old enough to vote is being played on the Oldies Station-- there can be no doubt that I am definitely getting old.
Don't get old. Buy T-shirts. Peace.