Sunday, January 1, 2012

Those commuting blues

As I begin writing this, keep one thought in mind: I am not whining.

We all face situations in our lives that are inconvenient, and when applicable, it is important to share this information with people in the hope that it will benefit them. In that spirit, I share this with you.

Commuting to Nashville can be challenging, and if anybody reading this is considering doing that, I want to share some ideas. I have been commuting from Manchester to Nashville for about 10 years for my job.

When I began doing this, I had no idea it would become a long-term situation, but this is the way it has turned out. With so many people out of work, I am not going to complain about having to drive a long way.

However, commuting is not for everybody, and I hope the following tips will be beneficial if somebody suddenly find themselves in this situation.

The first major point that must be accepted is that people in Nashville simply cannot drive, especially during rush hour. Multiply this fact by a factor of 10 if it is raining.

Once again, I want to emphasize that I am not whining. This is years of experience talking here. On days I wake up and hear it raining, I take a quick shower and get on the road as quickly as possible.

This is because rain adds about 30 to 45 minutes to my drive. As soon as I reach Sam Ridley Parkway in Smyrna, traffic grinds to a halt. We slowly creep our way to Bell Road where traffic mysteriously loosens up. Don't ask me why, but this happens like clockwork.

Also, the traffic reports given on the Nashville radio and television stations are an invaluable help and must be monitored at all times. If there is a wreck on Interstate 24, then I follow the same drill as when it rains. I get out the door as quickly as possible.

On days when it both rains and there are wrecks, the commute comes uncomfortably close to Thunderdome (see the film 'Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome' to know what I am referencing). When this happens, it has already been a bad day, and it is not even 8 a.m. yet.

An aspect of commuting I have never fully understood is how a wreck that happens early can still impact traffic hours after it is cleared. I know studies have been performed that examine this phenomenon, but I just do not get it. If a wreck happens at Old Hickory Boulevard at 7 a.m., a person can bet it will still cause problems later even if the automobiles involved have been cleared.

Also, Wednesday is usually the heaviest day for traffic during morning rush hour. I do not have the numbers to back that up, just years of experience. Mondays and Fridays are lighter because some people take those days off. Summertime is better because the impact of school zones is lessened, plus more people take vacations then.

So, if somebody reading this is considering commuting, take this information to heart. It seems more and more people in Coffee Country are doing this. Urban sprawl is leading more people to live here while working many miles away.

This is a great complement to our community. We live in a nice area that is certainly more affordable compared to the cost of living in Davidson County. The rent for small apartments up there is often as much as mortgage payments here.

In order to live the lives we want to, sometimes we must make sacrifices, and commuting is one many make.

Still do not like those rainy mornings though.

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