In early January, I left my agency counselor job in order to pursue new adventures in private practice. Although I’ve been working in Austin, I’ve continued to live in the same rural town about 45 minutes outside of the city, mainly because the expenses are a kajillion times cheaper.
Did you just Google Map Austin to try and figure out where I live? What. A. Stalker.
For all the money I’ve gained by staying in a cheaper area, I’ve probably lost an equal amount of my sanity from making this commute every day. Thankfully, we’re not talking about highway rush hour gridlock here. Instead, I’m forced to make the journey on an open, winding highway with scenic views of the Texas Hill Country – complete with lakes, rivers, and newly budding wildflowers.
It’s just as awful as it sounds.
Okay, I can grudgingly admit that the commute is actually quite lovely. Most days, I can enjoy it on my drive into work. But when I’ve had a full day of clients and networking, I couldn’t care less about the views. I just want to go home.
And all of these other drivers, on their slow, scenery-enjoying drives, are making me feel a little … irrational.
Let’s put it this way: if it were possible to murder people with only your thoughts, I’d be a serial killer by now.
I’m excited to say that this problem will not be a problem much longer, as I’m moving to Austin at the end of this month! Woo hoo! However, it’s still a problem now, and I recognize that my road-rage-induced stress is not doing great things for me. Therefore, I’ve been trying to think of ways that I can improve the commute so that I feel a little less murdery.
These are the ideas I’ve come up with so far:
Antidote 1: Take a moment to actually appreciate the scenery
Only problem: My appreciation for beauty is destroyed by my rage. Fuck off, flowers!
Antidote 2: Channel my frustrations into a rap song
Only problem: Hard to write when my hands are on the wheel. Also, not a good rapper.
Antidote 3: Keep a vat of melted cheese nearby as a comforting snack
Only problem: Unlike most cars, my car does not contain a built-in crockpot. Or, as I like to call it, a Cheese Keeper Warmer.
Antidote 4: Assign background stories to my fellow highway travelers.
Maybe the huge red pickup with oversize tires belongs to a sweet-faced, hot-cocoa-making grandmother who’s on her way to bridge club. Meanwhile, the purple junked-out minivan belongs to… I don’t know, Matthew McConaughey.
Only problem: Thinking of McConaughey reminds me of his Lincoln commercials, which I hate. I want to know what drugs the writers were using when they wrote his lines.
Antidote 5: Turn it into a drinking game (for once I get home).
I can have a sip of wine every time one of the following occurs during the commute:
- I have thoughts about the other drivers that are aggressive and/or not in keeping with my career as a mental health professional.
- Someone pulling to the side of the road so they can take pictures of their dogs romping around in the wildflowers.
- Someone not moving from the passing lane, despite going ten miles under the speed limit.
- Someone driving a gigantic automobile that’s clearly meant to compensate for non-gigantic body parts.
Only problem: None. This is genius. Off to buy some wine.
On a less-goofy note, I have actually found some luck with a couple of podcasts – This American Life and NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. If you’ve got other suggestions for podcasts (preferably humorous ones!), I’m all ears 🙂