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 “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!