Traffic, crowds, morning breath — your daily commute is the stuff of nightmares, right? It turns out, now you have proof to back it up. According to a new study, walking or cycling to work is better for your mental health than getting into your car and/or taking public transit. Is anyone really surprised though? Look at all the crap you have to put up with it:
The bus has reached capacity. You came to that realization six stops ago when five more people hobbled aboard and disappeared into the now indecipherable mass of yawns and sighs. Since then, a steady stream of new passengers has continued to find a way to board the bus at each stop. Surely, now, the bus is full, you think as you watch a dozen more people try to push their way on board. You can try anything you want to maintain your personal space: put your elbows out, pretend to spill your scalding hot coffee, fake an incurable airborne illness. No matter what you try, Crammers will always find more space. They’re the people who, inexplicably, think they can stuff a bag of flour into a purse or eat a full meal less than an hour after dinner. You almost have to respect these space magicians.
Annoyance level: Angry-yet-defeated glare.
As the bus turns a corner, you can feel your legs involuntarily shuffling along the slippery floor in a desperate dance to remain vertical. You blindly reach out for something to hold onto — a pole, a seat, another commuter — to steady yourself. If only you had a seat, you think as you regain your balance. And then you spot something that fills you with hot rage: someone has put their bag on the last empty seat as if it was a paying rider. “By all means, please give that seat to your inanimate object,” you think to yourself and seriously consider saying it out loud. “That bag paid to be on this bus, after all. And it has a long day of work ahead of it.” You just might have to say something.
Annoyance level: Angry outburst.
The traffic light conspiracy
You had breakfast, you packed your lunch. You even had time to read a bit of the newspaper before you loaded into the car five minutes earlier than usual for your drive to work. Everything is going your way this fine morning. But then, like a scene from a horror movie, the traffic lights turn against you. You hit a red light. And another. And another. You’re getting stuck at every single intersection — and switching up your speed doesn’t seem to help. It’s the Traffic Light Conspiracy. You start seriously wondering if you have an enemy in public works. Or maybe there is some truth to this talk about the Illuminati, which you now believe to be the group that controls the world’s traffic lights.
Annoyance level: Bang your head against the steering wheel and honk the horn at no one in particular.
Looking up from your book, you realize your stop is approaching. You reach up to ring the bell and start shuffling your way to the back of the bus. But when you get to the back doors, your heart sinks — someone is standing directly in front of them, with their back turned. “Excuse me,” you say. The Back Door Blocker pays no mind as the bus slows to a stop. There are plenty of places to stand on the bus this morning. The front, the aisle, the dedicated standing area. But no, this clueless commuter has decided to obstruct the exit. “Um, excuse me,” you repeat, this time shouldering your way past the blocker, who looks up from their phone with a look of irritation but ceases to budge. Finally, having squeezed past, you get one foot onto the step … but it’s too late. The bus has already started driving. You missed your stop.
Annoyance level: Muttered insult when safely out of earshot.
Taxis of terror
Slamming on the brakes at a green light, doing a U-turn in the middle of a busy intersection, squeezing into your lane without using a turn signal: it’s all in a day’s work for Taxis of Terror. If you’ve ever reached the point of tears over the reckless driving of a cab — swerving in between lanes in front of you and alternating between dangerously fast and painfully slow speeds — it seems impossible to imagine that these unloveable machines of vehicular sorrow actually help some people get to work. Go figure.
Annoyance level: Lean on the horn for so long it actually stops making a sound.
The lights go from red to green to yellow and back to red. And you still. Haven’t. Moved. “What is this person doing?” you shout in your empty car as you summon your inner-Jedi and attempt to move traffic with a swipe of your hand. The light, once again, turns green but the car in front of you still doesn’t move. No four way flashers. No helpless shrugs from the driver. You lean on the horn and angrily dart into the left lane. But before you leave the intersection, you just have to see this person’s face — the driver of this infernal roadblock on wheels. Well, their lips seem to be moving. It looks like they’re talking to someone. And they’re fiddling with something, an earpiece connected to their phone. Similar to Taxis of Terror, Distracted Drivers chug along the road with reckless, however unintentional, abandon. However, unlike taxis, they aren’t even getting paid for it.
Annoyance level: Record license plate information with intention to report to police.
The unexpected detour
Traffic is moving slowly this morning. You’re not exactly sure why. But as you inch forward, the giant orange detour sign suddenly comes into view. They’ve torn up the road, this mainstay on your daily commute, and they’re sending traffic off on a trek of twists and turns through the backstreets. Normally, The Unexpected Detour wouldn’t be such a terrible thing, but you’ve never seen these streets before — did that guy just inject something into his arm? — and now you can’t even tell what direction you’re heading. If you’re on a bus, this detour is even worse. You’re bound to be dropped off at some unknown location far away from your intended destination.
Annoyance level: Make plans to move to a new city but never follow through.
The stolen car
You think you’re just going to pop into the coffee shop for a quick cup of joe but when you return to your car, you can’t find it. And you’re sure you parked it right…here. Great. You’ve just become a victim of car-theft. To make matters worse, your briefcase was on the front seat. And so was your work computer, with that report you had been working on for nine months. Well, at least you have a coff … wait, nevermind. Now it’s cold. Better call a Taxi of Terror to take you to the police station. Your commute just went from a mildly aggravating chore to a month-long crisis.
Annoyance level: Head straight home and cry.