to Work Is A Full-Time Job
Joel J. Greenwald
coroner stands shaking his head above the middle-aged hulk slumped
next to a blue sports car on the fourth level of a parking garage,
ignition key clutched tightly in a cold right hand. A detective stands
next to him.
what is it Doc? Heart attack, y'figure?" The detective chomps
his stogie, satisfied that this will be an easy case to close.
suppose we'll find it was a heart attack. But I'll bet it was caused
by acute Commuter Stress Disorder. I've been seeing more and more
of it lately."
sounds like a pretty grim scene, but I'm convinced that's how they'll
find me. And to add insult to injury, I'm sure it'll only be after
I've put in a full day at work. Although you probably know more about
Commuter Stress Disorder than you realize, I'll review some of its
more prominent features.
day begins with the routine tedium of, naturally, bumper-to-bumper
traffic. The woman in the car ahead of you readjusts her rearview
mirror to facilitate the application of her mascara. The fellow in
the lane to the right tosses his cigarette butt out the window and
carefully extinguishes it with a delightful globule of spittle followed
by the remains of his commuter coffee.
next hour and 25 minutes pass with the same pace as the mechanic who
gets paid by the hour to work on your car and greets you at 7:30 a.m.
with these words: "You want to wait for it? I'm pretty backed
just encountered today's Commuter Delay Roulette winner: an accident
blocking the only lane between your home and your job; other drivers
slowing to estimate the extent of the damage to the car involved in
the accident that was blocking said lane; road work (or just cones
blocking the lane, no workers) that's scheduled only between 7 a.m.
to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., every day; a school bus, stopping
each block to pick up one child at each corner between your home and
the school next door to where you work; the garbage-collection trucks
(regular and recyclable) collecting garbage in every town you pass
through; some dufus who didn't realize that he didn't have exact change
for the toll until he actually got to the tollbooth, even though he
was waiting in the exact-change-only lane for the past 10 minutes.
the parking garage, a quick wipe with a magnetic key raises the gate
as though granting you a safe haven: You've just survived another
morning commute! Congratulations! Now you can sit back, relax and
work like a madwoman for the next eight hours before hopping in the
car and doing it all over again...