On the Road to Nowhere

So, I have a 1040 appointment for my first follow-on with my surgeon. Since the hospital where I had my two surgeries performed is miles away I got up early to miss the traffic snarl that is a permanent fixture of the road network where I live.

This was going to be a long drive – the longest since my heart attack and subsequent surgeries – so my daughter Meg was coming along to help with the unfamiliar and long drive. Unfamiliar, because both times I made the journey, I had not driven.

The first time to the hospital I was strapped into a gurney in the back of a speeding ambulance and was a bit preoccupied with the pain of the heart attack to notice where we were going. I even found out later that we drove through one helluva thunderstorm that I was completely unaware of.

The second time was my somewhat inglorious departure from the hospital. A very good friend had picked me up so I could leave in the evening. Without any hesitation he got one of his mates to ‘cover’ the start of his night shift so he could drive the long distance to get me home. I did not pay a lot of attention as I was still so ‘drugged’ up that we could have been driving on the moon.

So this morning, despite neither of us sleeping well (me because my sinuses decided to reflect the middle of the night weather change and Meg because the same weather change caused her bedroom temperature to skyrocket), we both got up extra early.

Amazingly we both got ready to leave on time (0900) for the Sat Nav‘s over optimistic estimate of a one hour and fifteen minute drive to the hospital. The second we hit the main road that leads to the dual carriageway (aka highway)  traffic was backed up and moving at a crawl.

I did not react as I normally do. I did not curse and smack the steering wheel. I did make a few obligatory remarks about the driving skills of my fellow motorists and put the radio on for the travel news.

A side note about travel news. I listen to a station that caters to (how to delicately put this) older listeners. Folks who really do know how to Jitterbug and do the Lindy. You know, folks who actually had a chance to meet Glen Miller. I will point out that I do not particularly like this station. They like talking to the older listeners more than playing music. I applaud their attentiveness to their fans, but… Any way they usually give travel updates every 15 minutes.

Not this morning.

I kept listening to the station for travel updates that are advertised as being “every 15 minutes” but after a half hour of driving they still had not given anyone a clue about the state of the roads or why everybody and their brother was on the road this morning.

It was not until  after we were trapped in a mile long traffic jam that the travel news came on and helpfully informed us of the multi-vehicle crash that had caused it. Just for the record? It was a whole lot later than 15 minutes Mr Radio Announcer.

Annoying (but as Meg pointed out not as annoying as it must have been for the poor folks that actually had the accident)although not insurmountable. Except for the fact that the accident occurred on the Orwell Bridge and said bridge is the main artery into and out of the area. One carefully placed (or not so carefully placed) accident can cause a gridlock in the county that can last for hours.

Traffic Congestion
Traffic Congestion (Photo credit: freefotouk)

A few years ago one such accident occurred and a 30 minute journey to work became a three and a half hour tortuous slog down back roads that got smaller and less navigable the closer I got to work. Luckily for me, today I only had to ring the hospital and tell them that I was caught in a gridlock and could not make the appointment.

One very short mobile (cell) phone call later and whatever stress that was looming in the back of my mind because of the traffic jam, dissipated. Poof. Just like that.

The one thing I noticed about the whole situation this morning is that not once during the most stressful part of my short abortive journey did I long for a cigarette. There was no urge, no involuntary ‘reaching for a packet’ or patting of shirt pockets hunting for packs of smokes.

Considering that not too long ago, I would have irritably and angrily puffed my way through at least a half pack of cigarettes, this was quite an accomplishment.  I mean, I wasn’t even chewing gum.

So my first follow on appointment was rearranged and we got caught for well over an hour in a traffic jam and I was in a situation that historically would have had me smoking like a forest fire. Not only that, but I would have been well on my way to some ‘righteous-road-rage.’

I guess I am really trying to change my outlook on life and my reaction to it.

Shame it took a heart attack and a close call with death to bring it about. Still, better late than never.

So long mate.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

10 thoughts on “On the Road to Nowhere”

  1. Glad to hear you’re being successful in quitting smoking. I’ve never been hooked on it, so I don’t know how it feels to quit, but with any luck you’ve got some momentum to keep you going. I know I and probably many others are sending well wishes your way.

    I remember when I first started working where I am now I commuted an hour and a half. The traffic was nasty most of the way, but especially on highway 101. What amazed me was I would hit stop and go traffic in a wooded wilderness area. I mean really, stop and go traffic IN THE WOODS? It never ceases to amaze me.


  2. I am SO glad I don’t live in that traffic anymore, but of course whenever I need one of my hospitals, they are in Boston … and that’s where the traffic is, so we have to deal with it at least sometimes. I won’t ever like it, but I’m better than I used to be at dealing with it. I try to make appointments for the least busy times of the day because we live more than 50 miles outside Boston and it’s a long trip. If it’s rush hour, it could take … forever? Yup. Forever.


  3. Great to hear, Mike! Despite the fact that you guys got stuck in crappy traffic and rescheduled the appointment, at least you made it out and back safely yourselves with no trouble, save the wait. The fact you made it through without a cig, or the need for one, just earns you that many more points. 😛 Road to recovery indeed! Take care, Mike, and good luck with the appointment later on! 🙂


  4. I wonder if I’ll ever feel as zen as you and lose the desire to smoke it up when I’m stressed.
    Also, I like the way you do times in the old military format (0900, 1040). I always do it like this 🙂


    1. I’ve done the military aka international time things forever it seems like! lol I’m not really zen yet…but I hope to be soon! Coz when I am I won’t feel obliged to make remarks about my fellow drivers! 😀


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