The commute life

I’ve been working in my new role long enough now to have settled on a commute path that suits me. It may not be the quickest or most direct or even make sense to anyone else, but it is mine and I actually like it.

It took a few tries, different routes researched before attempted, then attempted and disliked, and attempted again, and again and then finally – I found the one that worked for me.

While taking the most straightforward route down the 401, eventually linking up to Hwy 85 into St. Jacobs can once in a blue moon shave 10-15 min off of my drive, this route means almost always being stuck traffic, surrounded by people I have noticed that do not pay nearly enough attention to the driving of the car and much more attention to the phone in the car, which means higher frustration levels.

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It also means being in the car anywhere between 35 and 75 minutes depending on which lane is blocked by which obstruction and which areas are inexplicably jammed up. I took this route on my way in on my first day. This was also the last. I attempted the return route along the same roads, but didn’t make it past two exits before I bailed and began cutting across roads I assumed led me home.

They did.

I made it my mission to find a route that I could live with until our office relocates at some point this year – of the locations being reviewed by my boss and myself both put me well within 20 min from home, which would be a welcomed change.

When I finally did find my route, it meant taking just over 45 min to get to and from work. With the exception of getting into town to get to my neighbourhood which is so (not) conveniently placed in the middle of town, the meat of my time is spent on country roads. Leaving the city and accompanying traffic that seems to be outgrowing said city behind has translated into a peaceful, wonderfully paced drive that is keeping me sane… well for the most part.

I’ve taken note of a few common occurrences along my drive and I just want to be sure I am not alone in:

Conversing with other drivers – not to their knowledge of course: By this I mean sometimes thanking them. Usually for using their signal, finding the speed limit and maybe even taking a bit of a risk by pushing it, or finally being able to pass that tractor/horse and buggy that may be causing a small slowdown. Sometimes if I am super happy for them, I will applaud their achievement by literally applauding them. I hope they know it’s meant sincerely and from the heart. These drivers understand the point of taking the back roads and don’t mess around – I really appreciate you.

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Conversing with other drivers – to their knowledge: My route is usually very peaceful and provides me with more patience then I normally posses when too many not so bright people gather in one spot in their vehicles on the highway. That is not to say though that I still don’t have my moments where I encounter the odd jack ass. Sometimes that jack ass is the person who does exactly the speed limit in the 70 and 80 km zones, REFUSING to give 10 or 15 over, but then flies through the 50 and 40 km zones pushing 80 through the handful of little towns I pass through, as if that is the only speed their vehicle is capable of. These people usually are conversed with through the use of my horn and maybe even a good lipping off to…from the safety of my own vehicle of course. The other type of jackass that I have encountered is the one that cannot for the life of them keep their speed and meander in a +/- 20 km range around the speed limit causing the worlds most frustrating conga line of cars that cannot pass because in 5 minutes, he’ll be riding up your butt because he a) has no control or understanding of the mechanics of his vehicle or b) is not paying fucking attention.

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Celebrating the wins: When I hit all the green lights heading out of town, or two slower trucks split at a light turning left and right leaving the through way free for me to zip down, or when my chosen 8tracks playlist of the day KILLS it and gets me right in the feels for my mood of the day – I celebrate. A celebration can be any of the following: clapping, “whoo”ing or “yay”ing, raising the roof, or break out into a little dance. Which leads me to…

Car dancing: As you well know, Jacqui and I are professional car dancers and take this role very seriously. To aid in my car dancing career and deep love for music, my 4Runner is equipped with a competition quality sound system including sub and amp (yes, I am one of those people – and no, I do not care what you think when you see me rollin’ as you be hatin’). When Michael first told me his intent for the equipment was to be in my daily driver, I really wasn’t pumped about it…but now that I have it, I don’t know if I could live without it. I am no gangster by any means though. My choice of music ranges from good hip-hop like Jurassic5, A Tribe Called Quest or Shad, to contemporary piano, country, indie, electronic/chill wave and everything in between as I don’t discriminate – but I digress. The point being that I not only get in more car dancing because the length of my journey being increased, but also because with less traffic and wider, more open roads, one can feel that much more comfortable busting out their best moves. My abs thank me, I can tell.

Making Friends: Travelling the same route everyday has its little perks of familiarity and while I normally find routine monotonous and deadly, these ones seem to bring me a little bit of happy. I now know based on a few key vehicles that I see every day if I, or they, are running late or are on time. In addition I have made friends with a Great Blue Heron that flies over my truck’s sunroof on the daily at the same time, in the same spot by the river – his name is Henry and he is an incredibly majestic creature. There is also a very sweet construction crew that has been working on the road in one of the small towns I pass through for quite a few weeks – we’ve become such good friends that when they see me coming they will extend the slow sign for the reduced lane a few moments more to make sure I can sneak through before making my lane come to a stop, which always makes me smile.

On top of all of these wonderful things that may happen at some point on my drive, the bit of extra time at a reasonable pace has given me a lot of time alone to think – which my inner-introvert loves – or not think and take in my surroundings. Enjoying my commute has made the transition back into the working world even easier and I’m so thankful for this simple luxury. And to all of the hardcore commuters who have to deal with Toronto/401 traffic, and public transportation, my gratitude for my commute is present and the magnitude of this blessing is not lost on me – I promise.

~ Toni

Perfecting the art of car dancing

I hate road trips – there I said it! Everyone is all “let’s go on a road trip!” And I am over here by myself smiling and nodding my head along with the plan…when really I want to scream, NOOOOOOOOO!

However, if we must make a voyage, there are some must-haves for a long car ride: comfy clothes, snacks, coffee/water… and tunes – GOOD tunes! When ever we make the trip to visit our dad, I seem to always be the DJ for the car, which is made up of myself, sometimes Cody if he can get the time off work/hunting, Toni and Mike.

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I tend to lean towards the 90’s, 00’s or pop/hip-hop genre because they are crowd pleasing and danceable, which is the best way to pass the time. But car dancing isn’t easy – it’s mainly hand gestures and arm movements with some head nods that are completely laughable if you are viewing them from a passing auto. If you too would like to become a pro at car dancing, then there are four main techniques you must master:

The hand pump
Much different from its cousin “the fist pump,” this movement is more car friendly! The fist pump requires unlimited space above ones head, whereas the hand pump is more of an up and down motion, with an open palm facing down. This move can be used for pop, hip-hop and R&B. I would not recommend this for rock and roll, as the biker to your right is currently looking at you as you are pumping up and down to Ozzy’s Crazy Train – you sir are the one who will need to be put on the crazy train if you don’t cut it out!

The hand pump

The hand pump… ignore Toni… she didn’t get the memo…

Two-handed seat shimmy
This is a move that takes some control and can only be mastered by the most seasoned car dancers! It can be used for most genres, but again be mindful of your surroundings! This move uses two hands and hip gyrating. Be sure if you are in the backseat you have at least one seat between you and the other passengers. For your viewing pleasure, an instructional video has been provided.

Head down groove
Step one: Let down your hair!
Step two: Close your eyes.
Step three: Raise your arms and loosen your shoulders.
Step four (the most important): Feeeeel the music!

This move requires confidence, you can’t be afraid of what others think of you! The cars passing you will think that medical attention is required, but do not fret! Just let the notes shower over you as you and the music become one.
No, but seriously, this one is the best for slower EDM and Bryan Adams songs. Shake your head and let your hair wash over your face.

All smiles while car dancing - CONFIDENCE

All smiles while car dancing – CONFIDENCE

For the final move…..

The air banjo
This is not to be confused with the air guitar, which is played at the hip, but rather played up on at the breastal region! The strumming is more aggressive, and faster. This is not a move for drivers, as both hands are required – safety first, smart ass! I find the best genre for this is country. I mean come on…. banjo…country…they kinda go hand in hand! Don’t worry if you missed arm day this week, as the the workout you get from this will be more than enough to tide you over.

There you have it – combine these moves and before you know it that three hour car ride will have come and gone in no time! Just let it hang and groove it along! You will become a pro – now if only I could figure out a way to make money off of it…

~ Jacqui