Sometimes direct is best.

Today, because of the current transit strike in Ottawa, and because it was not like 40 degrees below zero outside, I walked to work, and for once remembered to bring my iPod. Trudging across the Minto bridges that span the Rideau river just above Rideau Falls, I was suddenly enveloped in soft early-morning sunlight streaming through the trees and stretching their shadows across the frozen snow-covered river. A pretty half-moon was bolted onto the clear blue sky at about 1 o’clock (degrees), and Boney M’s catchy “By the Rivers of Babylon” was boogying through my head. It looked as if everything was settling into one of those rapturous slow-motion magical moments, but then “The Tennessee Birdwalk” (a novelty song) came on. Well that’s like listening to Vivaldi followed by the chicken dance — and that was that.

But it was a nice morning, and I was making good progress. It got me thinking about my dreadful attempted commute of just the day before. The plan had been to “drop off” the boys at their schools downtown (since there were no buses because of the strike), and then drive in to work, leave early, and do the rounds in reverse. Well it had been snowing pretty heavily, and as standard operating procedure, two snow-flakes and everyone in Ottawa forgets how to drive — but with the transit strike it was much worse.

I went for my favorite short-cut, but when I got to my re-entry point, traffic was seriously backed up and going nowhere, so I went the other way and tried another short-cut, and another, and everywhere, in the direction I wanted to go, there was nothing but a sea of red tail-lights stretching out ahead. Then the kids started. “Why are we going to Toronto?” “Shut-up, Tom.” “I don’t recognize this part of the city.” “Shut-up, Nick.”

I finally gave up, worked my way into the crush of cars clogging the artery that I had ended up at, and just followed the car in front of me — for an hour. I dropped off the kids — way late, and then got to my work a full two hours after I had started out. No parking, anywhere. 3 lots later I capitulated in disgust and drove home (took 5 minutes), and just worked from there.

I can walk to work (as I did today) in 40 minutes (a guaranteed, known return). Instead, I tried to take one short-cut, then another, and another, just digging myself in deeper — getting more and more late. Had I taken the route Cindy does when she drives the kids, it would have been slow, but much more direct and I probably would have gotten to work in half the time — and found a parking spot. As I walked on this morning, I thought about how my little commuting disaster sounded a lot like some trading I’ve done in the past.

Thought I’d share.


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