How Long is Your Commute?

Pretty soon traffic will get so bad that the highways will remain in a state of constant gridlock. People will leave for work and it will take them five years to get there and fifteen to come home. They will meet lovers on the road and have babies in between the stalled cars. There will be festivals for things we non-commuters could never understand, children will be washed clean in blue fluid at their baptisms. There will be fire-dancing rituals in honor of their lord god GASOLINE. Eventually, the gridlock will get so bad that you will write letters to your parents, knowing they are long gone, and you will give them to your children so that your letters and their letters can remain side by side in the afterlife forever. Your great-great-grandson will deliver these letters back to the home you grew up in, and by then there will be a family: black, brown, asian, white, which isn’t your own living in your old house. They will tell the boy who has now become a man that they will take the notes he has in exchange for him taking notes which they have been given by their ancestors for a house which their great-grandfather apparently lived in which is fifty miles away. The journey to reach that place will take twelve years. By bicycle, it would have taken a day. But you will not give up your independence. You were born in a car and you will die in a car, you tell them. The world will evolve around the gridlocked traffic and soon the rest of us will be moving on, living smaller, cleaner, easier lives that don’t rely on the interstate grid. The children of cyclists and boaters and balloonists will go to the top of their town’s hills and for fun they will look down upon the hell that is the old battered highway and the traffic that stretches onwards forever. Eventually, the cars will simply give out and die, and the people within them who don’t abandon this quixotic quest will themselves die, and the roads will become a ghost town and will remain so for at least a decade, until someone gathers the political will and — using it as a winning campaign platform — runs for president on the notion that the government will stage one final herculean effort to push the debris to the side of the road and bury it to make room for more bike lanes.

Originally published at