Lex Erath | Sugar and Spice
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 03:10
This summer — wow, that feels like decades ago already — I took a class at Tufts, and since I live about an hour away, this meant I had the distinct pleasure of commuting to campus four days a week.
When I was little, my dad’s daily commute was an hour-plus drive into Boston. For some unknown reason I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Commuting! Who wouldn’t want to spend two hours of every day trapped on the highway with 3,000 of their closest friends? It sounded very adult and very glamorous to six-year-old me. So, full disclosure, I might have been just a little excited for my first drive. I mean, commuting had to be just a little fun, right?
Wrong. Turns out commuting meant the 45 minute drive I expected took two hours, talk shows instead of Top 40 on the radio and a lot of cranky business people who definitely weren’t interested in waving back at me (turns out Boston commuters aren’t looking to make friends, who knew?).
There was also a whole host of logistical problems to consider. Depending on traffic conditions, which are about as dependable as the Joey being on schedule, my drive could take anywhere from half an hour (I speed, see previous column “On Massachusetts drivers”) to two hours. So there were days where I was late and had to endure the accusing stares of my classmates as I slunk in mid-lecture. But other days, I would be early. And we’re not talking 10 minutes — ridiculously early, as in, an hour early. So when my professor came in 45 minutes before class to set up his slides, he’d look at me, brow furrowed, and wonder who the hell was this overeager nerd who showed up to summer school before he did?
Jumbos, you know commuting on any level is awful. There’s something about a midwinter 8:30 a.m. trek to Bromfield-Pearson or a 10-minute awkward power-walk from Olin to Cohen that makes me want to rip my hair out, or at least plan my class schedule a little better. But there are some upsides to commuting as well. To be honest, it really reaffirmed my faith in the human spirit. I know that right now you’re wrinkling your forehead and readjusting your flimsy newspaper, certain you haven’t read correctly. Let me explain.
There’s this one stretch of highway that’s always backed up for at least two miles in the right lane, because everyone and their grandma gets off at exit 14; apparently it’s the place to be. Like everyone else (with a shred of decency) who needs to get off at exit 14, I head over to the slow lane as soon as I see the back-up starting. But there are some — how do I put this politely enough that I won’t get edited? — jerks who will avoid the traffic and wait until the very last minute to cut into the right lane, saving themselves 20 minutes of stop-and-go while slowing down us honest people even more.
But the best feeling, the absolute best feeling, is when an entire two-mile line of cars joins together as one to prevent the jerks from cutting in; when 50 drivers all stoically inch up to the bumper of the car in front of them and ignore the glares of the would-be cutters. And you’re sitting in your car halfway back in the line, thinking, “stay strong, brothers and sisters, stay strong!” Those are the days that you might just finish your commute with a self-satisfied smile on your face.
Lex Erath is a sophomore who has not yet declared a major. She can be reached at Alexandra.Erath@tufts.edu.