Last night it took me more than two hours to get home from work. This is one of the longest commute times I've had in the past year or two. A Nor'easter dropped about 8" of rain on our St. John's County neighborhood and the surrounding area. This caused knee-high flooding on many roads in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. I'm not used to driving through these deep streams on the roads and neither are most other drivers. My evening commute doesn't normally include dodging wakes from pumped up trucks. I left Pennsylvania many years ago because I didn't like the stress of driving in the snow.
Some people honk when they get stressed out. This really helps matters for the honkers, I suppose. In some areas, cars were stalling out in the water, while other people were trying to turn around, back up or go around the deepest parts of the water. This roadway chaos provides great fuel for honkers who want to let non-honkers know that they aren't doing what a honker would do.
Not long ago, I remember watching a comedian talk about horns. He had a great idea for the auto industry--to add more variety to horns:
- humble "I'm sorry" horn
- neighborly "excuse-me" horn
- friendly "the-light-is-green-stupid" horn
- frustrated "get-off-your-cell-phone-and-pay-attention-to-the-road" horn
- irritated "get-out-of-my-way-now" horn
- and so on, like the different dings and beeps we hear as our computer talks to us
Last night, I was glad that my husband and I have a habit of watching comedy. It gave me a funny thing to reflect on as I inadvertently became involved in road stress. I listen to books on CD or to my iPod during my morning and evening commute, so it was very easy for me to unknowingly drive right into the flooded area. I'm just wondering how so many other people ended up in the same situation. I guess they weren't listening to the radio either, or they didn't believe what they heard. I hardly ever listen to the radio, but last night it rained all night long.
This morning, before driving to work, I tuned into several radio stations and my husband turned on the TV. We got some good information that helped me to plan my route to work today. It definitely cut time off my commute this morning since I was able to avoid areas with flooding, accidents and road closures. Instead of taking up to two hours or more, I was able to get to work in about an hour.
TV and radio offer up more rubbish and annoying advertising than anything else, but they can offer some helpful advice on rainy days. Local officials obviously didn't have a quick or effective process in place to help divert drivers, but cell phones and radios help to empower everyone, even a caring teenager driving an old Honda who reports a bad spot on the road.
People generally process information just in time on an as-needed basis, leaving behind a lot of leftovers. People don't have time to care about all the flooded areas or accidents, just the ones that might get in their way.
Our local police force has a process to set up speed traps early in the morning, but they haven't yet worked out their less frequent flooded roads process.
And most businesses haven't yet understood the value of having a comedian on staff.