So. . . last night I left work early to go to a 5:00 meeting on the Southside. I left the office at about 4:25 ish. . .plenty of time. On the way, I missed my turn and ended up in Oakland, trying to turn around and get back to where I came from. It was a stupid lapse in my brain that I can’t adequately explain except to say I’m getting elderly and instead of taking Grant Street (if you don’t know where these streets are, just let the words wash over you soothingly and enjoy the ride) I took 376W.
There is no convenient way back once you've gone that far except to go through the city of Pittsburgh, which I did. Did I mention that the meeting was at 5:00? Don’t answer that, because I know I did. It was 4:48. I snaked and through the snarl of roads and exits to find a way to cross the Smithfield Street bridge for the meeting. I was coming at it from the East (see map).
Yesterday was the Penguins home opener, so traffic downtown (where the Consol Energy Center, home to the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Hockey club, is located) was brutal (but not quite as brutal as that sentence).
My wife, coming from the North (see map), called me to say she was going to be late and to hold them over and discuss Lily's future until she got there. . . except I could see I was going to be late. We discussed this. I was stressed out, pissed off, and she offered some helpful suggestions about things I could have done differently in order not to have gotten myself stuck in downtown Pittsburgh traffic, which I reacted less than ideally to. (I had a minor tantrum that I did my best not to direct at her, but failed moderately before recovering later).
Cars moved at a snail's pace if they moved at all. I finally oozed my way through Pittsburgh, curling up north as my wife turned and headed east into town. It was 5:25. We’d called ahead and the meeting was on hold until we arrived. But that didn’t make it any less stressful since we were already a half hour late and getting later every minute.
|Map of Pittsburgh and our routes. . . "ish"|
I turned east onto the street that was going to take me to our meeting. . . and my wife crossed at the light behind me from the other street. She pulled in directly behind me and waved cheerfully. It was so absurd that it made my stress disappear. Our timing couldn't have been any better. Quite literally there’s almost no way we could have said, “okay, you come from the north, I’ll come from the west and we’ll meet at the intersection at 5:30. . . GO!” and made it work within 10 or 15 minutes of each other. The odds of her pulling in immediately behind me from another street in the midst of that mare’s nest of roads and traffic are astronomical. It was sort of cool. Except that we both arrived at the meeting at 6:00. . . an hour late. They told us under no circumstances could the meeting go past 6:30. They had to be out of the building by 6:30. We left at 7:15.
This morning on my way to work I was impatient with the traffic going through the tunnels and took a short cut to the West End bridge, which sort of parallels the Fort Pitt Bridge, but further down the river. . . then the road joins 376 on the other side of the river, past the tunnel. (Again, if you’re unfamiliar with the roads, just let the words wash over you, the message amounts to the same thing. Just insert your own road names.)
It takes slightly longer, but sometimes the traffic on the Fort Pitt Bridge makes it worth it. A guy in front of me was going so slowly we were barely moving, so I jumped ahead of him and tried to get back in the lane to take the ramp to 376. . . and couldn't.
So I said. . . fuggit, I have a GPS. . . I’ll just drive a little further and then cut across. Only there's no cut-across, and what I didn't realize is that I was almost heading in the opposite direction from work. . . my short cut was going to end up being longer than the commute itself.
|not to scale and stuff|
So I turned the GPSs on, and ended up driving through neighborhoods I'd never heard of before, and some that I had heard of but never seen, until eventually stuff started looking familiar.
I had already started the commute a little late. After I dropped the kiddos off and left the daycare an urgent call of nature forced me to stop at home first before I continued to work. I got started on my commute about 10 minutes late. I usually get to work around ten minutes to 8, so, no biggie right?
I got to work at about 10 after 9. About an hour late.