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Dying of Boredom

I wonder how many times in life I’ve used that phrase. “Lord, I thought I’d die of boredom.”

Yesterday, I could have. Literally.

For all but one of the past thirteen years I have commuted at least forty-five minutes to work. Every morning. Every night. Same old road. In Oregon I at least had to navigate traffic and stoplights and a plethora of right turns and left turns. Not so now. I drive two and half miles from my house to the main gravel road. From there, it’s nine miles, one dip and two curves to the highway. Then forty two miles of nearly deserted pavement into town.

From six o’clock p.m. until nine o’clock a.m., our highway is a dead end road. Those are the hours that the local border crossing into Canada is closed. A gate is swung across and locked and traffic comes to an abrupt halt. During that fifteen hour stretch, only locals travel the road, and locals are widely scattered and not given to a lot of driving around in the early morning and late evening.

Every day I meet the same two pickups and the school bus on the way to work. I know all of the drivers personally. Coming home in the evening, there’s a little more congestion. On a busy day, I might even meet ten cars in that forty two mile stretch.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? How many residents of L.A. or Atlanta would love to trade their bumper to bumper traffic for my open highway? The trouble is, it’s a little too easy. In fact, it’s downright boring. The road is smooth and not especially narrow, except there are no shoulders to speak of. The pavement ends at the white line and the edge of the road drops off directly from there. Not a lot of margin for error if your attention should happen to wander, and your car along with it.

Which is exactly what happened yesterday morning.

I was tired from five days of fighting a blizzard for possession of our calf crop and two mornings in a row of waking up at four o’clock unable to go back to sleep. Plus my son had a t-ball game the night before and I didn’t get home until nearly nine. The combination of fatigue and boredom eased my brain into that semi-hypnotic state where you suddenly snap to and realize you have no recollection of driving the last ten or twenty miles. I don’t even remember why I glanced away from the road.

I do remember very vividly the instant when my front tire caught the edge of the pavement. The wild swerve. A second wild swerve. The realization that I was not going to make the upcoming curve. The squeal of tires, the sheer terror as the car skidded into the ditch, slammed into a berm, and started to roll.

The flood of relief when it careened onto the passenger side, then stopped.

It’s an interesting sensation, hanging from your seatbelt in a tipped over car. Not one I care to experience again, thank you very much, even though I walked away with only a scratch on my palm that I acquired while crawling out. As scary as the actual crash was, what’s even more unsettling is the knowledge that I can’t say it’ll never happen again.

How does one cure road boredom? I’ve tried everything from music to audio books to Pepsi, but all have the same inherent flaw—they keep me more alert, but they do so by drawing my attention away from the road, which is sort of self-defeating.

So you tell me. How do you keep from being bored to death on the road?

7 Responses

  1. OMGOSH!! I’m so glad you’re okay! What a scary experience. You gave me chills reading about it! Yikes! Long drives are always hard for me. The only thing I can do to regain focus is stop, walk around for a bit and have something cold to drink with me. Gum works too. 🙂 Hope you’re not too sore today! Big Hugs!

  2. Oh, my goodness! I’m so glad you are in one piece. You crazy girl – you’re supposed to check your email and text while you’re driving. You know that.

    Get a coffee and some Black-eyed Peas on the radio. Then sing all the words wrong. That’s what I do.

  3. I am so glad you’re okay.

    I’ve done that too (faded out while driving AND rolled an SUV)

    I listen to books when I drive but that doesn’t always work. I have found that the book moved on and I don’t remember what happened! Take a tape recorder and learn to dictate your book. Would that work?

    and yes, I have rolled an SUV. Small Bronco II. It rolled first onto the driver side, then upright, then over to the passenger side and then a total roll over where I ended up back on my tires. That was in 1994. As I type this I can still see what I saw through the windshield as this all happened. And I had the strangest thoughts as I rolled. Not will I be okay nor did my life flash in front of my eyes. Nope. My thought was…My insurance is going to do sky high after this. and then…My husband is going to kill me. BRAWAHAHAHA I did have on a seat belt, so I was lucky. I broke a fingernail during the rollover. Months later I pulled a piece of metal from my scalp (yes yes I know…hard headed). If someone had been in the passenger side, this story would have had a different outcome. I have no doubt the rollover would have killed them.

    So what kind of SUV are you going to replace this one with?

  4. Oh, whoops. I forgot this was posting a day after I wrote it, so I should clarify that the accident was on Tuesday morning.

    I’ve been anal about seatbelts for a long time. And having three acquaintances and a young cousin die from being ejected from a vehicle have made me even more so. It was amazing how I didn’t even fell as if I got thrown around in this mess. Had a little bit of a stiff neck the day after, but that’s been going on since the kid tackled me on Saturday. I’m probably lucky the airbag didn’t go off. I’d have ended up more bruised.

    The car is actually still drivable except the radiator is shot, but the damage is sufficient that it’s being considered totaled for insurance purposes. I am awaiting word from the company on what they’re willing to pay, if it works out, I’m going to keep the car and fix up the worst of the damage and not worry about some of the smaller crimps and scratches. Honestly, driving this gravel road every day, it’s usually so dirty you’re lucky to even be able to tell what color it is.

  5. SCARY! I’m so glad you’re okay (and as anal as I am about seatbelts).

    I’m really bad for getting sleepy after about an hour and a half of driving a boring (but curvy) road. So I’ve invested in Comedy CD’s. Larry the Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy and Robin Williams can keep me awake and alert indefinitely!
    Also music CD’s that are full of songs I can sing with – although I must then keep my windows closed or the game warden would likely be after me for scaring the wildlife….. good luck and keep taking care!

  6. Glad to hear you’re okay. Loud music is one way to alert.

  7. I agree with Jane. I use loud music. Especially the hard rock kind. 😉

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