I don't know about you, but lately my morning commute has been taking a lot longer. I turn out onto Washington Street each weekday, down where I live near the Milford line, and almost immediately run into a barely-crawling line of traffic, jammed, crammed, and hung up all the way to the center of town, and sometimes beyond. Now, I don't have one of those killer commutes that you read about, like over to the North Shore or into East Cambridge. No, I only have to get to South Natick, but traffic is traffic no matter where you go, and somehow it's worse to be stuck going nowhere in your own town, where until lately the traffic seemed to flow more freely than it does now. Between the road construction, the school busses, and all these new megahouses that have sprung up in the woods (each with its three-car garage stuffed with SUVs and minivans), and what with Dad having to get to work and Mom having to get to tennis and the nanny having to run the kids to school, our old country roads and lanes are looking more and more like the Mass Pike on a Monday morning.
Well, I've got to get to work, that's the bottom line, and I simply can't stand poking along in a traffic jam at 2 mph. I didn't move out to Holliston to sit staring at somebody's brake lights, I could be doing that in Newton or Woburn, or Brighton! Maybe there's another way to go, some sort of detour I could take. I could go up Courtland Street to Marshall and then over Gorwin and up to Chamberlain and Prentice and so out to Hollis Street, a pretty ride, but that way just takes me to the center of town. I've got to do better than that. Maybe if I take Summer Street south, then Lovering, then swing over to Hill Street . . .
People found out about my little detours, so they're all stop-and-go now. Washington Street is totally clogged every morning, a "pretty tight ride" as they say on the radio. But it's OK, I've got it under control. What I do, see, is I actually go west, a little ways into Milford, and then gradually swing down to the south around Bellingham, and sometimes Franklin, a little, and come around into Natick by some back roads in Medfield and Sherborn that are still fairly light. Nobody knows about these short-cuts of mine yet, and so I can get to the office all right, although I'm usually running a little behind, sometimes it's 10:00 or so and I have to stay late, but at least I beat the evening commute, usually. And I have to leave the house earlier in the morning, of course. One of the neighbors who stays home puts my son on the bus for me. Usually, I drop him off still wrapped up in his blankets, asleep, but that's OK. He understands how it is, I think.
My commute's getting to be quite a challenge now. But I can handle it. I still have what I consider to be a quality lifestyle, and you know, you've got to keep moving, that's the important thing. If you're not moving, you're nobody, that's how it is. So, the little detours I was using a year ago, everybody found out about them, too. They're all stuffed and stalled out now. Every highway, every by-way, side-street, cart-path, and back-alley leading into town, major and minor, along with every conceivable cut-through that gets around, dodges, avoids, or breaks free of all the jam-ups is itself pretty well jammed-up most mornings. They've kept building more and more big houses with bigger and wider garages, and that just means more and more cars on the road each day, one person to a car, mostly, and it's just a long pile-up of glass, metal, rubber, and plastic along each and every strip of macadam each morning.
But I've got it figured out. Don't tell anybody, but what I do is I actually go west and then south a little further, just go around it a little more. I drive out towards Mendon and Uxbridge, like, and then swing way south, down around Woonsocket, and sometimes I need to snake through some of these side-roads in Attleboro and Raynham. There's a cut-through in Lakeville that I know about. I'm moving right along most of the time, and then I come over through Avon and Westwood and Dover and then right into South Natick and I'm there. It's very pretty by the old dam and the river and the little brick library, any season of the year, have you seen it? There's an especially nice view from the parking lot. Sometimes it's past noon by the time I get to the office, but it's OK because, you know, I've got to get to work, that's the bottom line.