Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Overtime and traffic

I'm working overtime again today.

I've come to terms with this. I've got fresh batteries in my flashlight, all my work clothes are almost ready, I have a vague notion of what I'm going to take for lunch, and I'm planning on allowing myself two hours to make the thirty-three mile trip.

The two hours won't just be for commuting. One of my major conflicts with today's overtime is that today is the day that both Watchmen and Robot Chicken: Star Wars Volume 2 come out on DVD. DVDs are always least expensive during their first week of release, until they get remaindered at some point in the future. But the DVD new release sales cycle runs from Tuesday, when new releases come out, through Saturday, with new prices taking effect on Sunday with the new ads. This was actually my primary point of conflict with today's overtime: I really, really want to get these DVDs, but without the overtime I can't really justify spending the money on these extravagances, and with the overtime I am working every night that the prices are in effect, and sleeping every day, and therefore unable to get out to the store to buy them. The only way to make this happen would be to buy them today, since I always wake up extra-early on my first day back to work.

So I will be stopping at Best Buy on my way to work. I will also be stopping to fill up my nearly-empty gas tank. And I will be allowing plenty of extra time to navigate the mine field of construction that is Interstate 81.

I was late for overtime on Saturday because of a new construction zone that was thrown up, unannounced (as far as I know), that morning. Oh, there were announcements posted on the highway that day; I saw them about a mile into the five-mile-per-hour crawl that I and a gazillion other people - many of them weekend drivers unfamiliar with I-81 and its vicissitudes of construction - were doing. After a good half-hour of this we finally came upon the source of the delay: a pinch point where two lanes became one for about a hundred yards. And that was it. It was a phantom work zone: no construction was going on, no construction workers were present, just concrete barricades and thousands upon thousands of orange traffic things-that-aren't-cones. Once I was free I engaged in regrettable actions that resulted in me only being seven minutes late.

It wasn't just me. Many other people were late that day, for the same reason.

Someone at work told me about PennDOT's traffic camera website, where you can see road conditions at any given moment. My commute from Nanticoke to Olyphant takes me through much of the region designated District 4. There are quite a few cameras located along this stretch. I will start making a point of viewing these cameras before I leave for work, though road conditions can change from minute to minute, and it is possible that new construction zones may pop up between the time that I check the cameras and I reach that point on my commute!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get ready to go out and spend money, and then earn some of that money back.

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