Have you ever been running late to work? You really need your coffee for the morning commute but if you were to stop off at Starbucks, you would completely risk arriving late to the office. What happens when the need for caffeine overtakes the logic of proper time management? Would you then consider the inappropriate use of the carpool lane? Today was such a day.
Although I feel a need to argue the merits of a “snooze” button on the alarm clock, instead the focus will be on the stressful events and guilty gratification resulting from the over-use of the snooze button. For most individuals about to embark on their daily commute to the office, there is an internal negotiation that occurs. One side of the brain is stressing the importance of safety and responsibility in arriving at the office in a timely manner while the other side of the brain overshadows the details of the daily commute with the overwhelming desire for a fresh warm cup of coffee. It is a complex decision that includes rewards and consequences.
Does one choose responsibility or coffee? I choose the later of the two – virtually every time. Time can always be made up during the commute but the tone of the entire day truly begins with a refreshing hot cup of coffee. It is my opinion that one can easily make up ten minutes by simply increasing his/her speed by a few mph (depending on the distance of the commute). But, what does one do when traffic congestion is such that increasing one’s speed is not an option. Or, even worst what does one do when the congestion results in speed far below the speed limit?
What about the carpool lane? It is amazing how an individual can begin to justify in their own mind utilizing the carpool lane even though they are the only individual in the vehicle. Personally, I am one that thought he would never consider doing such a violation – being the only person in the car using a carpool lane that clearly posts signs every half mile stating that at least 3 people required.
However, the traffic was just not moving. My 9:00 am meeting was creeping up closer and closer. I was moving at only 30 mph while cars were flying past me in the carpool lane at 80 mph. For that brief moment the one side of my brain said; go for it. Then while sitting in traffic sipping my delicious coffee and contemplating my various options, I noticed in my side view mirror a car coming up from behind in the carpool lane with only one person in the car. Who does this guy think he is using the carpool lane? What would low-life individual do such a thing? The mind quickly shifted from contemplation to judgmental.
Needless to say, I never penetrated into the carpool lane. Ironically about two miles up the highway there were some flashing lights. It appeared that the gentleman choosing to ignore the law was now going to be paying the consequences. As I slowly drove by, I raised my coffee to the Officer and gave him a smile.
I did not know the gentleman taking the risk of using the carpool lane nor did his actions have any positive or negative impact on my life – so for what reason was there gratification with him receiving a ticket? I believe the gratification was the in indirect reward of not getting a ticket for doing the right thing. Many violations occur in various areas of our society with no accountability. Yet somehow on this particular day, my Starbucks coffee was a little bit richer.
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.