Lessons learned in a Traffic Jam
Recently I had the unique experience of being in a minivan with 6 other adults (family members) after a wonderful visit to Sanibel Island Beach in Florida. After the beach we went to a fun restaurant for a late lunch/early dinner and unfortunately, our timing led us be in the midst of a two-hour traffic jam to get off the island.
I learned a few insights during my incarceration in the minivan about traffic jams and people.
Go to the bathroom before you get into the minivan or car or whatever mode of transportation you are using. Within an hour we knew that a few of us, me included, were not going to last much longer and finding a proper place to stop was becoming imperative. We were lucky enough to find a public park and after pulling out of the traffic jam, using the facilities, stretching our legs and discussing our options, we were able to get back into line only a couple of cars behind the one we were original behind.
Always take your cell phone charger with you, even if you don’t think you will need it. With everyone using their cell phones to see if there were alternative routes off the island, searching random things out of boredom, or attempting to see if we could figure out why the traffic was not moving, we were running out of power…a serious tragedy if they all ran out at once. This leads into my next lesson.
Do some research if you are going to a new destination or even if you are revisiting someplace you had been before. Things change and it never hurts to look up your destination on-line or to ask someone who has been there recently to see if there are any tips or suggestions for making your visit more enjoyable. If we had looked up Sanibel Island we would have seen that leaving the island between 4pm and 6pm was discouraged because of traffic delays.
Plan alternative routes in case of a problem. Chances are you will not need this information but having it may help with all the suggestions you may receive from the various smart phone users who still have power in their phones. If you are the driver, good luck choosing the one that works best. Of course, there is always the option of ‘staying the course’ and just riding out the slow traffic because in our case, there was only one bridge off the island and all roads eventually lead to it.
Forget finding out why traffic isn’t moving (and does it really matter)? No one walking, jogging or riding by on bikes will have any idea why you are not moving. I know because we asked a few and were rewarded with the same answer of a shoulder shrug and “I have no idea” each time. We are on an island with one bridge off so knowing would not have made us go any faster.
Have beverages and maybe snacks your car. After about an hour, and after our pit stop, a nice cool drink of water would have been wonderful. We did have three very yummy desserts from our lunch in to go containers in the small cooler but with no utensils available they were pretty safe there. Although I am sure had the traffic jam lasted much longer we would have resorted to using our fingers, at least I would have.
If you are the driver, be patient (our driver was extremely patient, not only with traffic but with us). Switching lanes to get into the faster moving lane was not an option for us, it was a two lane road. However, if you are stuck in a traffic jam on a multi-lane highway, keep in mind moving into the faster moving lane will immediately result in that lane becoming the slower moving lane. If you are a passenger, be patient with your driver. Remember all decisions are ultimately theirs and you are along for the ride. Not happy about that, then you drive next time!
Enjoy the slow pace and company. Since you are not getting anywhere fast why not just sit back, turn on some music, talk to each other or enjoy the scenery. Make the most of the rare opportunity to have some ‘down time’ in a world that is way too fast paced and rarely allows us the chance to just relax.
All in all, I would not have traded those two hours in the minivan, it was a bonding experience and actually fun. Besides, it has given me some great stuff to blog about. After all the best blog material comes from real life, so family and friends beware!
Let me know what lessons you have learned being stuck in a traffic jam.