Signs of the Road




Ten indicators that you might be a commuter to Boston.In the pre-dawn hours of the work week, hitched as you are to this cycle of coming home from the office circa 7 p.m. and leaving the house by 6:15 a.m., it can be confusing, nay, even dizzying, to know exactly who you are, what your purpose in life is, who you are meant to be. This vicious cycle of drive, drive, drive (well, you wish, more like stop, go, stop, stop and stop), this stuttering life can make one day seem like it's just biting the tail of the next day. Even your dreams have dotted yellow lines in them.Here are 10 road signs that I've jotted in my notebook along with the draft of a historical novel and two departmental presentations, written between Exits 29 and 30A on the Route 3 Everett Turnpike from Nashua between the hours of 6-8 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. in the past four weeks.You know you're a commuter to Boston when:Number 1: You start to recognize license plates - numeric ones.Number 2: People start commenting on how much your car looks like you.Number 3: Your passenger side rarely contains a human. Lovingly arranged on the seat are three or more of the following items: manicure kit, pedicure kit (for the more adventurous), electric shaver, tweezers, cosmetics, an iron, framed photographs of your kids and/or pets, wrappers from your last four meals, receipts for daily gas station visits, print-outs for deals on a used Prius.Number 4: You've listened to so many books on tape that the who-done-it plots are as obvious as looking at plaid.Number 5: You think that "commuter line" means the backed-up traffic between Lowell and Chelmsford.Number 6: The models of vehicles face-planting you each morning all suggest some ongoing ironic Manifest Destiny or freedom of movement: Explorer, Expedition, Everest, Escape, Pathway, Range Rover, Journey, Territory, Pathfinder, Trail Blazer.Number 7: You listen to an entire show on New Hampshire Public Radio about high-speed rail lines, hearing men whose car hoods are barely warm from their travels say that there is no market for a rail service to Boston. You listen to the whole rerun on your way home that night (traffic jam due to Red Sox game). Although your cell phone is charged, the radio program was broadcasted earlier in the day and they're not taking any calls, especially not from individuals weeping, hitting the steering wheel with their forehead, gnarling and gnashing their teeth.Number 8: You'd give up one of your two paid vacation weeks to personally help dig a trench in the median down Route 3 with your daughter's Rite Aid plastic beach shovel if it would jumpstart a high-speed rail effort.Number 9: You find yourself wishing on a daily basis that you were a European - and not for their sexy accents.Number 10: Parts of your life float by like ice rafts shaved off of icebergs. You eventually pass the last two guys you dated before you married, your future children, your imaginary friend from when you were 7 (and she's driving a Prius). You start to see your past - and future - lives in the passing lane. NH

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