As I stared out the window of my office building, which looks directly out over highways 62 and 169, I could see the miles and miles of brake lights and head lights, all sitting still on Friday night. Typically, that sight would make me decide to “hunker down” at the office and read my textbook or keep working. But not tonight — I needed to leave that office before I got another phone call or email, and decided moving through traffic at 2.3 miles per hour would be better than the possibility of having another request to handle. I literally felt this weight coming off my body as I moved past the security gate and through the door to the parking garage. I was far enough away from my computer and my desk phone to be able to respond to anything. I was free!
So off I went.
It was pretty slow, but I was uncharacteristically in a good mood, just because it was officially the weekend, and a three-day weekend at that. I decided to take Highway 62, since I was 115 percent sure that 169 and 494 were going to really, really suck. Not that I thought 62 would be way better, but since I rarely take it, it’s harder to know how far you are from where you think you should be, so it doesn’t feel like it’s taking as long as it actually is, if that makes sense.
As I’m slowly approaching different exits along 62, I’m wondering what the chances are of getting home faster with those side roads. The problem is that it was an area I’m not at all familiar with, so the potential of getting incredibly lost–in my little Mazda 3, on side streets that haven’t been plowed–was pretty high. But I kept looking longingly at all the other vehicles, who probably knew that area like the back of their hands, as they were exiting and quickly moving away from me.
“Should I take Gleason Road?” I would think, my eyes darting from the road ahead of me, to the fast-moving traffic exiting onto Gleason Road, to my rearview mirror to see what my chances of exiting at that exact second would be. “…should I take it….I wonder where this puts me…” I did a quick scan of the skyline, which in the Minneapolis suburbs only takes you so far, but I was in luck, an Edina water tower. “I’m at least in the vicinity of being somewhere near where I want to be…” But of course I was in the vicinity — I’m only 13 miles away from work and on a highway taking me in the right direction. Plus, it’s not like Edina has only one water tower. It’s not like knowing where this water tower sits really gets me anywhere other than in the suburb of Edina. Then it’s up to me to navigate those side roads in Edina and hope that I’m headed in the right direction. I’m somewhat familiar with one area of Edina, but it wasn’t this one.
Then I thought about how sometimes you seem to be trucking along on those side roads, free spirited, thinking how much smarter you are than everyone else, only to found out it’s a dead-end, and you have to go ALL the way back to where you started. “Well that would suck…I mean, really suck. There’s no way my car would make u-turns properly on side road, in Edina, in this weather.”
Then I started thinking about the concept of “right place, right time” (or conversely, wrong place, wrong time). I think about this concept a lot. Like when I’m running a few minutes late and I say to myself, “A few minutes isn’t life or death!” But really, in the case of road accidents especially, it can most certainly be life or death (then we can get into the whole “it was meant to be” thing or “God had a plan for you to be in this accident” thing–that is one road I’m not going down). Anyway. What if I took a back road, got stuck trying to traverse through an intersection and was t-boned by a all-wheel-drive SUV that was barreling down a side street, probably a side street they barrel down every single day. But on the other hand, what if I stay on the highway and spin out into the pathway of one of those giant brown and gold buses that barrels down the highway, on the shoulder, in horrible weather? Obviously something bad can happen either way, but which one has the highest chance? (This again takes us back to the “God has a plan…” thing.)
I stayed on the highway. I figured that the chance of a spin out on my part was pretty low since I would probably never reach a speed that would allow much loss of control. Yes, it took me about 75 minutes to get home. But I made it, without any near-accidents, and it was the weekend!