Today I drove to the grocery store (0.7 miles) to grab a snack before work (0.2 miles). Once at work I hopped in one of the vans and headed out to Puyallup. There were three of us heading to the work site (a hotel) but the vans only seat two people so I ended up driving in a van alone. They powers that be used to allow us to drive our own vehicles but there’s been a policy change recently that probably has to do with insurance. This policy change seems silly to me because the VW Jetta gets at least 30 mpg on the highway compared to somewhere between 15 and 20 mpg for a Chevy Astro Van. It would cost the van as much as $10 to do the sixty mile round trip while it would cost the VW half that. Besides, the Volkswagen is much easier to control which makes it safer. Driving an extra van just doesn’t make sense to me. 

Traffic was pretty light getting to the site. It took me forty minutes to travel the 30.0 miles to the site. The weird thing is that traffic was definitely heavier coming home in the mid-afternoon and yet according to my watch I made it back to the shop in a minute less time. As I was driving that sentimental Green Day song, “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” came on the radio and I remembered the kid who, during the summer before 9th grade was killed in a car crash with his father. They were heading back to Anacortes after a Mariner’s game and were just north of Marysville. Most of the time I drive past that spot I think of him. Apparently the Green Day song was played at his funeral. 

Reflecting back on it, I’m thankful he’s the only person I know who has died in a car accident. I’ve been in a car accident (as a passenger), but fortunately wasn’t hurt. Both of my  parents have been in car accidents and at least two of my three brothers have. I remember not really complaining about other people’s driving styles before I got my license. Now that I have some familiarity with driving, it can be terrifying to be a passenger, not being in control of the vehicle. Is it this lack of control over a potentially lethal device that prevents more people from carpooling? Do people think of riding on a bus the same way? If I were parent to a teenager, I would need a hell of a lot of convincing to allow my child to get behind the wheel. I just don’t think the freedom is worth the drama.

Now, to shift gears for a moment, in the name of the experiment I am finding myself become a slave to the clock. I am constantly checking the clock, constantly forgetting. In the car I am constantly resetting the trip odometer. Constantly forgetting and later checking what it should be on Google™ Maps. I am one of those people who likes not to have to monitor everything precisely. I prefer a certain looseness. Maybe my rejection of precision is that I have tendencies toward being particular and when that fails I feel dissonance, stress. 

Speaking of dissonance, if such large portions of the county/state/country/world are aware of the harm automotive traffic causes and suffer from some level of cognitive dissonance, as Jake mentioned, why isn’t all that suffering causing greater stress? Where is that stress going? Are we all just shoving it in a dark closet in the back of our minds or does rationalization really, truly alleviate the sufferer?

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