When I drive to work in the morning, I take surface streets. I’m used to commuting via the interstate, so it gets tedious, at times, to sit through stoplights. Of course, I’m pretty much always running late, so that factors in as well.
Given the number of stoplights on my route (six) you’d think I’d be used to it, but I am always paying attention. It’s a seven minute drive if I make all the lights. Close to 12 if I don’t. It adds over four minutes! That’s a lot. Then, of course, there are the varietals of what if I make this light and miss this one? But, mostly, I’ve noticed one thing. The entire drive hinges upon one single stoplight. It doesn’t matter if I make or miss the ones before, it only matters if I make that one. If I do, then I make the lights after. If I don’t…then I don’t.
It’s the stoplight at Upper Afton. It annoys me to no end mostly because it is the most unnecessary stoplight I’ve ever encountered. It’s at a T-stop intersection. Only three ways to go. The majority of the traffic (though it could hardly be called heavy traffic) is on the through street, Upper Afton meets it. Why there can’t just be a stop sign at UA and those people pull into traffic, I’ll never know.
Somehow, I’ve started judging my days by that light. Anyone else do things like that? I used to do it when I’d drive to Richfield or Edina for work. There was always a slow down on the interstate where I-35E joins I-494. When I’d come to the slow down, I’d look at my clock and think if I get through this and to the MN river in less than ten minutes, it’s going to be a good day. Is that crazy? I don’t know, but it seems like if traffic patterns go my way, the rest of the day does as well. Of course, if traffic sucks…well, you can follow the rest.
I’ve now begun thinking, as I approach my least favorite stoplight, if I make this light, it’s gonna be a good day. And, for the most part, I’m right. Since that light is very hit-or-miss, there’s no pattern to it and I’m actually able to judge my day off of it. Okay, that sounds a bit wonky. Whatever, it’s my crazy ritual.
Flash to this morning, I’m cruising up toward the light and-BAM!-it turns yellow on me. I have to stop. Crap. That was my first thought. Today can’t be a bad day, I am going to a concert tonight! Today is a FUN day! I’m leaving work early. This day is supposed to be good!
I was practically hyperventilating as I argued with my superstition. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something weird. There was a car in the oncoming lane, also stopped for the light. I glanced in that direction and saw the driver was an elderly woman. I couldn’t make out her face, but she had a white pouf of hair and glasses. Elderly.
As I watched, her little white pouf started bopping along to a beat. Without fail, she was clearly jamming to some song. I’m assuming that she had her radio on and was not recently escaped, but it was so.darn.cute!
Think about this: when is the last time you saw an elderly person jamming to music? Jamming to anything? Listening to music?
This little lady was in her own world, bopping along and all I could see was her old lady hair, swerving in time to some mystical beat. I grinned out loud.
As the light turned green and I started to go, I looked over as I passed her. She had her head turned, so I still couldn’t see her face, but I waved at her, because she made me happy, even though I knew she wouldn’t see it.
When I approached the next stoplight and it, inevitably, turned yellow, I smiled and thought, “it’s going to be a great day!”