Saturday, August 14, 2004

The 401

Anyone who lives in Ontario knows the 401. Also known as the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway, it is the main east-west highway throughout the province, and forms the backbone of the most heavily congested traffic corridor in the country.

But a highway isn't made lousy by its engineering. Its drivers do a fine enough job on their own.

I just finished an 8-and-a-half hour spin from our house to my in-laws. Thankfully the kids slept for most of the latter part of the drive, and we pulled in around 2:45 a.m. (hey, some of us have to work for a living.) My wife did her best to keep me company while I drove a road that looked uncannily like the old Atari Night Driver game (if you remember it, you're totally dating yourself. But that's OK, because nostalgia is a good thing. But I digress.)

While listening to a CD laden with 150 MP3 files of every Hooverphonic, Pet Shop Boys and Shrek Soundtrack tune known to humankind, I had a lot of time to think about the meaning of life on the road. Here are my observations:
  • Many thanks to the lovely truck drivers who would pull out of the right-hand lane whenever the urge struck them. Never mind that I was in the process of passing them. Or that they were doing 95 km/h at the time (the limit is 100 here...120 seems to be the accepted cruising speed).
  • I so missed waving at those friendly Ontario Provincial Police officers with their flat-brimmed state trooper-style hats. At least I think they still wear them. But I wouldn't know, because not one of them made an appearance during the entire trip.
  • God bless the person or people who invented those gas pump that accept debit and credit cards. We now have one less reason to interact with our fellow human beings. Technology may very well set us free. But by then, we'll have no one to talk to.
  • Our next van will have a DVD player so we can anesthetize the children with Finding Nemo. Never mind that my wife and I once swore up and down that we would never resort to using the television as a babysitter. The ideals of the pre-children set tend to break down once you have kids and reality sets in. Bring on the mobile DVD and let our idealistic dreams be damned. Or at least darned.
  • No matter what time you actually arrive, your parents and in-laws will always tsk-tsk that you got in too late. They tend to forget what it's like travelling with three kids and a car packed so full of gear that it practically sighs when you finally unload it. Maybe next time we'll just send postcards.

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