Expat Life, SwissNic

The Road to Nowhere


The Road to Nowhere…
…My morning drive to work along the A1.

The alarm clock rings, and the stress begins. Kids must be woken, fed, chased with a toothbrush, dressed in something reasonably unwrinkled, and forced out the door. I need to shower, choose clothes that looks half decent and matches the weather forecast (sunny and hot with good chance of rain and cold), eat something half decent (healthy and nutritious but tasting hopefully cheesy and salty). Get my hair under control. Pack a lunch. Find shoes that go with the outfit (classy, serious, sexy, comfortable and waterproof).

Clearly, mornings are not easy, and are full of conflicting goals. But then, we all have the same issues, don’t we? And then, for those of us living in the La Côte area, comes the next challenge of the day, one which can crack this day open at the seams, turning it into an official Bad Day. The A1.

Yes, you guessed it, I work in Geneva. I live in Rolle. You see the picture I’m painting?

I’m lucky that my job involves shifts that frequently spare me too much A1 pain and suffering. (Hey that sounds like an actual illness, like H1N1, only this one is A1P&S). However, frequently I must join the millions of others boarding the infamous highway at rush hour. Ok I may be slightly exaggerating in my estimate of the number of commuters, but I think you know where I’m coming from.

And so the challenge begins. Step One: check the traffic situation on my iphone. Of course, despite the fact that I have done this morning routine millions of times (also slight exaggeration possible), I ALWAYS  think to do this only once I am walking (rushing) to my car. So Step One is actually a series of carefully synchronized smaller steps all done simultaneously: walk toward car, fish iphone out of depths of purse, juggle lunch bag on other shoulder, consider whether shoes which are too tight were bad choice as I hobble quickly along, find traffic app and tap to load, fish keys out of depths of purse with third hand, exit itunes app accidentally opened because not paying attention and open traffic app, say “bonjour” to neighbour who looks completely sophisticated and calm and is wearing extremely pointy high heel shoes that somehow don’t look uncomfortable (how do the Swiss do that?), unlock car doors with remote, read traffic app that hints mysteriously in French at an overload of traffic but still suggests cars are moving along, unlock doors again since accidentally pushed lock instead of unlock, wave to neighbour who is already driving off at breakneck speed with perfectly immobile hair and notice her manicured hands as she waves back, open car door and toss purse, lunch bag, iphone and keys onto passenger seat and get in.

Step Two: Sit in car and pick up contents of purse which spilled accidentally onto passenger seat and on floor. Find keys under iphone. Start car.

Step Three: Turn on car’s GPS and back carefully out of parking spot without hitting anything (I always stop when the beep beep back up thingy flatlines anyway).

Step Four: Wait for garage door to open automatically for me, notice for the millionth time that it really does seem to open slower for me than everyone else. Finally on my way.

Step Five: As I approach the highway entrance, my GPS decides to change its mind (it gets temperamental like that) and annoyingly suggests an alternate route via the lake road. I ignore it, confident in my traffic info research, and in an unmerited act of vengeance it waits till I am committed to the on-ramp before turning the highway line a bright red on the screen. I get a bit nervous but decide it’s just being moody because I ignored it yesterday when it wanted me to turn left into a stone wall.

Step Six: Merge into the relatively busy traffic by maneuvering between an incredibly fast moving transport truck and an incredibly slow moving white Audi (how many white Audis are out there this year, by the way? Is white this year’s grey in the Audi world?).

Step Seven: Settle into the drive.Turn on WRS. Can’t believe we might actually lose that station. That could actually put some of us over the edge. Bet they haven’t put that into the petition. Listen to people on the radio talking calmly and casually while the people actually around me are tensely hunched over their steering wheels, eyes darting left and right, guarding the spacing between them and the car ahead so nobody dares invade it, snarling wildly at any car coming too close (I include myself in this description of course.)

Step Eight: Actually say “ha!” as I pass the Gland exit and traffic is still flowing.

Step Nine: Heart sinks as a red wall of traffic lights appears in the distance.

Step Ten: Am stopped in traffic between Gland and Nyon.. Send a text to hubby saying “Am stopped in traffic between Gland and Nyon”. He replies cleverly with: “That sucks.”

Step Eleven: Twenty minutes later I am approaching the Nyon exit. Now comes decision making time. Should I exit and try the lake road, or even the upper road through the villages above the highway, or stay on the highway in the hopes it clears? I deliberate. I weigh the pros and cons. The lake road could be just as bad. The upper roads take a lot longer, usually. But the highway might be blocked all the way to Vengeance though! By the way, sidebar here, I know it’s not really called Vengeance but that’s what my brain sees whenever I see that sign saying “Vengeron”..

I am getting close to the exit, need to make up my mind. Can’t decide if I should exit or not! As my car inches forward I quickly text hubby saying “Can’t decide if I should exit or not!”. He cleverly replies: “That sucks.”.

My mind wracked with all the possibilities I continue the quiet debate with myself, occasionally reprimanding myself about not being able to make a decision. (Sidebar: good thing my job does not require quick decision making skills. I’m just an air traffic controller.) Suddenly the car ahead  of me lurches forward at sudden surprising speed so I decide to stick to the highway. I watch the exit go by, then am back again in the crunch of snails.

By the time I get to work three hours later (ok it’s actually only 30 minutes later but I was counting in dog years), I am exhausted. My feet ache, my head is pounding, I have clearly lost control of today’s hair battle and I am too hot. It starts to rain on the walk from my parking spot to my work entrance. My shoes are not, I repeat, not waterproof.

And the best part is, after a relaxing day at work, I get to repeat the whole scenario on the way home!

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