I don’t believe that I have ever in my adult life hated something as much as I hated a green light today. It hung there, swaying slightly in the much-too-cold December breeze, five cars away, mocking me and every single person in a car ahead of me.
It mocked us simply by moving slightly, which was something none of the cars were doing.
Put simply, it was a rough ride home from work tonight. About an hour before the start of my commute, there was an accident several miles beyond my home interstate exit. Unfortunately, the wreck was apparently bad enough to snarl traffic along two expressways right at rush hour. And that snarlation led nearly all the way back to my office.
It wasn’t even stopped traffic. At least with that, you know you’re not going anywhere anytime soon. When you’re at a dead stop, it’s usually pretty easy to just settle in and wait for the traffic constipation to clear up.
Tonight, though, was worse. It was that incredibly sluggish stop-and-go kind of thing where you get passed by the whole team of slow-as-molasses All-Stars. Granny with that walker? Yep, she passed me without so much as a wave or the suggestion that I eat something. The famous slow-and-steady-wins-the-race tortoise? He screamed right by; I eventually caught back up to him, but only because this time he stopped for a nap. Even Droopy passed me in traffic. It was…irksome.
Actually, it got worse than just irksome. Eventually, I left the expressway a few exits earlier than usual with the intention of taking advantage of the area’s alternate routes, side streets, and back roads. Unfortunately, apparently so did a whole lot of other people; the other routes were every bit as congested as the one I’d just left.
Which brings me back to that green light, mocking me.
Traffic off the expressway was so jammed that even when a light changed, one or two cars, at best, were lucky enough to slip beyond before running up to the rear of another car. So there I sat watching the green light while the compact SUV in front of me went nowhere.
After a few cycles of green lights during which I inched forward as if playing CandyLand with only the single square cards, I realized I was gripping the steering wheel tightly enough that my knuckles were white. I could literally feel my blood pressure rising as I squinted with deadly hate, impotently, at that unholy traffic light.
I was just considering the release of a Great Scream of Pent-up Irkedness when something in my head told me I was being kind of stupid.
I think it was my subconscious channeling my Dad. He’s the kind the person who looks at being stuck and traffic and goes, “Eh, I’ll get there when I get there.”
That’s when I realized that screaming, white-knuckled, at a traffic light is probably not all that constructive and that, yes, wherever I was headed would almost certainly still be there when I arrived. There’s really no reason to hate a green light; it’s just doing its job.
So I took a few deep breaths and forced myself to relax. And just as I was respirating my way back to normal, my radio suggested that maybe I could use one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.
At that point, I couldn’t help but smile and sing along.
My car radio, in turns out, is more helpful than all the therapists in Los Angeles.