I have experienced some incredible traffic jams. Some of my worst examples:
On the way to a Grateful Dead concert (July 4, 1987), my friend Alan, Theresa and I got caught in the mother of all traffic jams. We exited I-95 (about 4 miles from the stadium) 5 hours before show time. We did not make it to the stadium by show time. Traffic was so gridlocked that Alan had to pull over to the side of the road, and park his car next to some trees near the highway. That seemed like a good idea while it was still light outside. After the show was over, we realized that we did not know where he was parked. I still think it is miraculous that we found his car.
One night after work (a Friday night, of course), there was an accident near the PA Turnpike tollbooths that blocked all but one tollbooth from allowing cars through. Traffic was blocked for 8 miles on Route 1 Southbound. Traffic was so bad on Route 1 South that some cars ran out of gas and had to be pushed to the side of the road. It took me 4 hours to get home that night. I never made it onto the Turnpike. I had to take side roads to get home. Sixty miles of side roads. That is why I always use the restroom before I get into the car, and make sure that I have at least 1/2 tank of gas.
After a Peter Frampton concert (June 11, 1977) at JFK Stadium, 110,000 concertgoers all tried to leave the area at the same time. Three hours later, we were still in a stadium parking lot with many of the 110,000 concertgoers. Some of them may still be there.
As a result of these (and many other) traffic disasters, I try to avoid traffic at all costs. I am obsessed about this. Whenever I attend sporting events and concerts, I start planning my exit strategy before the event begins. Sometimes I plan my exit strategy before I purchase the tickets.
I leave concerts at the beginning of the encore. I leave sporting events before everyone else. I am out of there. I take great pride in leaving before the traffic starts. Unfortunately, I sometimes miss greatness. I once missed Bruce Springsteen coming onstage to play at a U2 concert. I also have missed a couple of great sports comebacks.
But I don’t care. I must beat the traffic.
“Beat the traffic” has become a running joke in my life. It is even going to be part of my funeral. At my funeral, my daughters are supposed to tell all of the attendees (thousands of them, no doubt) how obsessed I was about beating the traffic. Then they are supposed to tell all of the attendees that if they would like- they can all leave 5 minutes early to beat the traffic.
I won’t be there anymore anyway…..I beat the traffic.