Friday, January 8, 2016

8. Traffic. UGH.

I hopped into my car this morning wondering what traffic was going to be like. It had snowed a couple inches last night and I was sure the roads were going to be slippery and full of traffic. Traffic annoys me. Commuting with heavy traffic rates slightly above taking a whiff of spoiled milk in the “activities I hate taking part in” category. (That is why I usually take the bus into work.)

I thought about typing the address for the parking garage I usually use my phone. Even though I’ve driven in at least a dozen times now, I usually type it in anyways to see traffic conditions and check out if another route might be quicker.

But I decided to leave my phone in my pocket. I don’t know whether it was the Modest Mouse song playing on the radio that got me amped or the thought that I would probably not listen to my phone anyway.

I thought about the fact that I really can live my life with optimal utility. I can wake up with my favorite song. I can immediate turn on my phone to the news. I can get the best route for traffic. I can get real-time updates for what is going on in the world. I’m sure there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of smartphone apps that allow you to reduce the crappy parts of your day to almost nothing. I even recently read about an app that will break up with your significant other for you. Yes, we can now outsource heartbreak to a bot. (I wonder if Bob Dylan would have even written “It Ain’t Me Babe” if he had an iPhone.)

While I think the invention of the car GPS is a wonderful one, I wonder what inconveniences are going to be reduced next. I wonder how that’s going to affect the psyche of my generation when we are the ones running everything. I’ve heard the buzzwords “grit” and “resilience” being tossed around in educational news these days. I’m sounding like an old man here, but I feel like these are things kids should be taught in everyday life. (Grit is an awful sportswriter cliche anyway.)

I took my normal route and even though it was slow at spots, I don’t think it was any worse than normal. I switched the radio the MPR and morning host Cathy Wurzer said that traffic would be a slow go, but I think I had gotten ahead of most of it.

Every once in awhile we should be reminded that we’re not always going to have dopamine flowing to our brains. The batteries in our devices will get low. The wi-fi will not always work and some days we’ll just have to deal with traffic and no GPS will get you around it.

And even so, some days we’ll over prepare and worry about things beyond our control. And in the end our days, much like the traffic, will go smooth anyway.

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