One Thousand Words on My “Choose Your Own Adventure” Commute

My commute to and from work is less than ten minutes, the perfect length in my estimation.

I used to have to drive twenty minutes one way. I’d get in the car at the end of the day and spend the first half of the drive making a list of all the things I was going to accomplish when I got home.

Clean the bathroom, wash the car, brush the cat.

But then I’d have to drive ten more minutes. Ten minutes that somehow sucked the energy right out of me. I’d get home and not want to do anything.

So a ten minute commute is a dream.

But my favorite thing about my drive isn’t the length. It’s that I have so many options.

I have at least eight different routes to work. I counted.

Granted some of them are very similar to others, just a left instead of a right less than a mile from my destination.

But I could still drive to work a different way every day of the week, including the weekend, and still have one leftover.

When I first discovered this plethora of options, I would decide before I started my car. “How do I want to get to work today? Do I feel like taking the scenic route or the interstate? Do I want to avoid traffic or not?”

But lately I’ve been overwhelmed with the choices and have started playing a little roulette. I don’t mean I spin a wheel to decide my course, although a commute roulette wheel would be really cool.

Here’s what I do: Whenever I come to an intersection or a fork in the road that both lead to work, I choose the one the car directly in front of me did not take.

My own little tribute to Robert Frost. The road less traveled, etc. Never mind that all the roads are highly traveled, they’re less traveled by the car ahead of mine.

After a few weeks, I’ve determined that there are three benefits to this practice:

1) It eliminates decision-making.

Sometimes I feel like all I do is make decisions. Every day I make decisions at work. What to spend money on, which shows to book, what our letters should say, should I schedule a meeting or could we just talk on the phone, who should have access to our calendar, what color to paint the walls.

And there are decisions at home. What to make for dinner, what temperature to use when I’m doing laundry, what TV show to watch, run the dishwasher or wait and try to get one more plate in, whether or not to go to the movies, whether or not to write every night.

Life is all about our decisions, but it can be exhausting.

I always said that the perfect birthday would be if someone planned the entire day, made all the decisions, did all the driving and paid for everything. Totally stress free.

Of course, they’d have to make the decisions I would have made in order to make me happy. Chinese, not Italian. The blues concert, not the hip hop concert. Chocolate chip cookies, not cake.

So I like letting the driver in front of me decide how I get to work each morning. It’s one less choice I have to make.

2) It’s like being a character in a choose your own adventure book.

When I was a teenager, I used to read these silly teen romance books. I think they from Harlequin, just like the grown up versions.

They had some that were just the straight story. Girl in high school meets boy in high school and so on.

Some of them had the girl’s side of the story in half of the book, then you could flip it around and read the guy’s side of the story.

And then there were the “choose your own romance” stories.

In these the teenage girl would have a big decision to make. Whether or not to go to the prom with the cool, popular boy or the nerdy boy she really liked. Whether or not to go on a family vacation or stay home to go to a party with a boy.

The book would say: “If Susan blew off her shopping trip with Molly to go to the football game with Chuck, turn to page 100. If Susan told Chuck she already had plans on Saturday, turn to page 150.”

Now that I think about it, it must have been quite a process to coordinate all those links for every choice the reader made.

I always felt like they were almost a personality quiz as well as a book. And I used to go back and read all the different options to figure out which I liked best.

Now my drive to work is a similar adventure.

3) I’m safe from stalkers.

I heard once that in order to avoid being stalked, you should vary your schedule. Don’t leave at the same time every day and don’t always take the same route to work.

Now I know I’m not at great risk of being stalked. Other than my group of bus stop bachelors, there aren’t many men clamoring for my attention.

But you never know. There could be some kook out there who would call a plus-size non-profit arts administrator who dabbles in writing their dream girl

But good luck, crazy guy. You will never be able to follow me home, because even I don’t know which route I’m going to take from day to day.

Although, I suppose if they were in front of me, they could actually dictate how I get home, at least until the first turn.

But I’m not going to worry about it. If they’re nuts enough to stalk me, they’d never be able to figure that out.

So, while my commute is blissfully short, I try to make it as exciting as I can. Let’s just hope there’s always someone driving in front of me.

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