I suppose I started this metamorphosis into a landlubber a few years ago when I took a full-time teaching job. Not because of the job itself. That didn’t fundamentally change me. I’d taught surfing; now I taught whatever the Va Dept of Ed deemed important, and to a vastly different clientele, one that would grow up seeing the beach as just a happening spot to party. Teaching is teaching. And I was still surfing, occasionally in the morning and often in the afternoon. What got me, what began to chip away at my core, was the morning commute.
I used to laugh when the traffic report came on the radio. Ha, bunch of lemmings! Then I’d change the channel as fast as I could.
Whichever way was bogged down with traffic, my life flowed in the opposite direction. Morning commuters crept inland as I blazed to the beach. Storm warnings sent hordes scurrying for higher ground, and I was drawn into the tempest. They were sheep, and I was a bull.
When I worked, it was mostly from home, pecking away at the keyboard wearing nothing but yesterday’s boxer shorts. That, or sporting a pair of trunks and maybe a tee shirt at the beach.
Then, one day, this life turned upside down. I found myself driving away from the ocean. Pre-work surf checks got old quick knowing I’d be locked indoors for the next 7.33 hours. The worst mornings were those I’d have to dodge board-toting surfers playing Frogger toward the sea. Major sigh as, the rising sun at my back, I pulled onto the moron train.
I’ve seen all the usual suspects – nicotine suckers, nose pickers, top-of-the-lungs singers, steering wheel scrunchers, textaholics, breakfast sandwich scarfers. And I’m right there among them; these are now my people.
I’ve endured coffee-stained slacks, missed exits, overamped morning deejays, state trooper pullovers, flat tires, bent fenders, even one totalled pickup. I went to court to be told by the judge, “A 2000 Tundra? Time for a new vehicle, son. The auto industry could really use your support.” I’m here because I couldn’t afford to renew my expired tags, and you’re suggesting I purchase a brand new vehicle. Gee, thanks Wapner.
The hardest pill to swallow might seem insignificant to you. It’s so simple, yet it makes me want to go postal. The traffic report. I no longer laugh. I instinctively reach for the radio as before. Now, it’s not to change the channel but to turn up the volume.