A Week as A Commuter
Last week I started with a week of training for my new job as a Partnership Specialist for the 2020 Census at our headquarters in Las Colinas. Travel rules for the government say that if you live less than fifty miles away, you commute. Monday morning was a travel day for all of my co-workers in the class, as they flew in from their homes all over the country and stayed in a hotel nearby. I arrived well before the 11 a.m. start time and the drive was a lot better than I had expected. When we let out around 5 p.m., reality set in on the drive home. After sitting in traffic for over an hour just to get to downtown Dallas, I opted to head down US Route 175, South to IH 20, then up Farm to Market 740 to Forney. It was a trip of nearly two hours.
Being an “out of duty” commuter, on Tuesday I made the mistake of listening to Wilson and heading the same route: out US Route (Highway) 80 to IH 30, up Interstate 35E to Texas State Hwy 183, and then TX SH 114 past the old site of Texas Stadium, to Las Colinas. Fortunately, I made it in plenty of time, but the traffic was pretty bad. That evening I got as far as the 183 and 35 merge and decided to turn back and check into a hotel for the night with loyalty points.
There was a second reality that set in, and most of my co-workers had planned to get together for drinks. While I would have liked to socialize, I don’t drink and from years of experience working in an environment where a lot of people do, I make it a policy to stay away from co-workers getting lubricated up and saying what is really on their mind. I opted instead to treat myself to a rack of ribs at Red, Hot and Blue near 114 and McArthur. Several years ago, I ate at the one off of Central Expressway and commented to the manager that their ribs were as good as Charlie Vargas’ Rendezvous Ribs in Memphis. He said “They ought to be, we bought their recipe.” Ever since, I accepted Red, Hot, and Blue as a legitimate substitute for the famous Memphis Icon.
Wednesday was a short drive from the hotel but I couldn’t use up all of my hotel points because Lori and I plan a nice vacation with them in the distant future. While sitting in training it occurred to me that IH 635 is only a few miles to the North. I also remembered that all of the construction Lori had to endure when she commuted to Midway Road for years. I had never used the Express toll lanes on LBJ before. Let’s face it, I’m just too cheap. But now tolls are paid for once I submit them for travel, so when I left work I turned away from Forney on 114, hit the George Bush Tollway for a few miles and got in the Express Toll lanes on LBJ, and eventually entered a sub-terrainian world I had only imagined in the past. I found myself driving in light traffic, three lanes wide for miles at a time while traffic above on LBJ crawled along bumper to bumper. IT WAS WONDERFUL. It did slow down a lot in places, but it may well have shaved an hour off of the drive home. I went that way for the rest of the week. The shocking thing was that when I looked up my toll tag account it cost less than three bucks each way.
When I got home, I couldn’t resist thanking Lori for being able to reap the benefit of all of the years she spent in traffic and driving around it on creative routes. Lori was not amused.
Thank goodness I only had to make that trip for a week.