#322: Highway to Hell (RSTs Mk II: Getting More Tale)

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RECORD STORE TALES Mk II:  Getting More Tale

#322:  Highway to Hell

The big peave that I have today in my current work is my daily commute. It’s not far at all (I can do it in 10 minutes if there’s no traffic) but it can be hairy. To understand this, you would have to see the poor planning that went into the roads in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, otherwise known as the tri-cities area.

To get from work (in Cambridge) to home (in Kitchener), there are only a handful of good routes. The trick is getting across the Grand River, and there are only three nearby bridges to access. One of them is Highway 8 into town (two lanes each way but expanding), which is always in a state of construction. Another is the King St. bridge (one lane each way) and another is Fairway Road (a bit too far out of my way). Any accidents can cause jams on any of these routes, but the worst location is what I call the “sweet spot”:

The Tri-Cities "Sweet Spot"

The Tri-cities “Sweet Spot”

The “sweet spot” is on Highway 401, between Hespeler Road and Highway 8 into Kitchener. An accident there at the right time of day (3-4 o’clock) will tie up traffic going into town on any of my routes. Prior to the opening of the Fairway Road bridge, accidents there have delayed me by almost two hours (on a normally 10-15 minute drive). Add in winter weather conditions for part of the year and you’re in for a real good time.

There are accidents on my 10-15 minute drive home nearly every day. Once a month there will be an accident in the dreaded “sweet spot” causing major delays. Last week there were two in a row!  On those days, all I can do is study the traffic map, select a route and hope for the best!

When I first started this commute, all I had was a single disc CD player in my car. Each day I’d pick an album to listen to.  I only had room for one or two CDs in the car at a time.  Length didn’t matter; a Van Halen album would be perfectly fine for my commute on a good day. On a bad day however, you can count on running out of music and having to start over! Fortunately I have since switched to a couple 8 gig flash drives, avoiding traffic tie-up repeats.

On the bright side, a “sweet spot” traffic tie-up informed my review of Sloan’s The Double Cross (which I got to hear twice in one drive), during my drive home.

Other commuting misadventures that I witness on my way home, on a daily basis:

1. Motorcycle idiots passing between two cars. On the highway. Last seen on Friday last week.
2. People passing on the shoulder of the 401.
3. Being cut off in traffic, daily.
4. Idiots on cell phones.
5. Somebody in a Dodge Ram weaving in and out of traffic, trying to make it further along than anyone else, only to get stuck behind a transport truck.

These stories are not so unique. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you witness these same things too. As I progress into the RST Mk II’s, I intend to vent about traffic again in the future. (In fact, I’d like to buy a dash-cam. The video gold I could produce every day would provide endless blog fodder.)

Fortunately, music does soothe the savage beast. Rather, technology does.  Back in Record Store Part 16: Travelling Man, I stated “when you’re stuck in traffic on the 403, in a torrential downpour, listening to Winger, it still sucks pretty much as bad as it would if you weren’t listening to Winger.”  What has changed since then?   Well, I’m not driving that far for one.  GPS and Bluetooth have reduced the stress greatly.  Having 16 gig of albums in the car is also better than five cassette tapes.

What’s your favourite album for being stuck in traffic? Take it from me: Sloan’s Double Cross works really well!

23 comments

  1. I feel your pain. I have 10 mins in the car and 20 on the train, all being well. So it’s iPod mostly but I keep the Dazed & Confused soundtrack in the car to cheer myself up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. INCIDENTALLY:
    Yesterday there was ANOTHER accident in the “sweet spot”. Fortunately this did effect me as it was in the morning and I was driving TO work as opposed to home. But that makes THREE “sweet spot” accidents in just SEVEN DAYS. Unreal. All in the exact same place.

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  3. I drove in your town last weekend and witnessed a few geniuses at the wheel on a sunny, clear Saturday afternoon, even. But I think that’s everywhere, even here in my smaller town (10x smaller than yours). The problem isn’t traffic – it’s people. Tired, thoughtless, selfish, chance-taking me-monkey people.

    My lovely wife’s hour-long (each way) highway commute has produced some fabulous stories of incredible human idiocy. I do worry about her, especially in winter, but she’s a damn fine driver and she’s not the one making the mistakes. Almost10 years now, knock on wood. I usually make her mix CDs from my collection for the drive, sometimes I even talk on them, between songs. Myself, I don’t have a commute, except the few blocks to and from my son’s school. And even then, I see yahoos in the school parking lot.. Just about the last place you’d think a person would want to take dumb chances is in an elementary school parking lot, but there you go.

    That sweet spot sounds like the 400, Barrie To Toronto. If there’s gonna be an accident report in the news, it’s on that highway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Barrie to Toronto – yep. Been there!! The hubs commuted to Don Mills from Barrie for 2 years before we moved to Stouffville. Then, I commuted from Stouff to Barrie for a good 3 years before my current job in Etobicoke. That highway has seen more blood shed…and the snow! Hwy 400 between 88 and 89 is a death trap. The whiteouts are stellar!!

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    2. As I said to Sarca, I don’t have it in me to do an hour long each way every day anymore. I hope I never have to again. I like it the way it is right now, accidents be damned! If only they’d build a couple more bridges in this town.

      And get rid of all the idiot drivers.

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      1. Yeah, I’ve been a commuter for almost 9 years. I handle the drive a lot better than my husband ever could. I’m not in stop start traffic for most of it, so that helps.

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        1. This is something I was trying to get across during Record Store Tales. Some people handle things well, some don’t. I feel I was taken advantage of because I had a car. Another manager who had a crap car didn’t have to do any driving. I can drive anywhere but commuting regularly puts me in a tailspin.

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      1. Yes indeed! My bad! Let’s rewind start that again!

        … Mini Mike’s doing a good job there pointing out the “Sweet Spot”. Nice

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  4. Dude, I have to ask… What all the hell did you have in your vehicle (which I believe is a car) that you only had room for one or two CDs?

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      1. And yet, even 10 or 15 years ago there was a thing the size of a sandwich that could comfortably hold 10 or 20 cds… I guess if you’d had it though we would not have this tale. it’s a better deal this way.

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