Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Commuter Edition

I’ve been getting lots of compliments lately, mostly from women, about what a great and considerate husband I am. It’s all because Gilda broke her wrist last summer.

Her injury has long been healed but the practice of my driving her to and from work Monday through Wednesday during her healing and rehabilitation has continued well beyond her return to physical fitness. Our female, married, friends can’t believe I put myself out in my retirement by waking up at 6 am to drive her into Manhattan and return in the afternoon after her work day concludes. They wonder if their husbands would be so accommodating.

Truth be told, while I don’t relish the loss of sleep and the disruption of my afternoon, I have an ulterior motive for being her chauffeur—I like to eat well. Gilda is a fabulous cook who often was too tired to whip up a dinner for two after she drove herself home. But as a passenger, she pays me back by cooking up nightly feasts (as I write this blog at 5:30 pm she is in the kitchen preparing tonight’s repast). 

Two months ago I wrote about our listening to the BBC World or the Pulse music station, both on Sirius Radio. Often on my way home after dropping Gilda off in the morning or when driving to pick her up in the evening I listen to Pandora, mostly folk and folk rock, music I sing along with that brings back memories of the decades when I was a teenager through my thirties. 

I was never into heavy metal, punk rock or anything that I considered “noise.” When I went off to Syracuse University for my master’s degree, my sister gave me the following LP albums:
Stonehenge by Richie Havens;
Tapestry by Carole King;
Days of Future Passed by The Moody Blues;
Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens;
Ladies of the Canyon by Joni Mitchell;
Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits by Bob Dylan.

That last album contained a Milton Glaser psychedelic poster portrait of Dylan. Gilda had the album, as well. We hung one of the posters in Dan’s room when he was young, its whereabouts now unknown to us. Also unknown to us, Ellie loved that portrait. Last year Donny wanted to give her a framed copy of the poster. He was ready to spend several hundred dollars when I told him we had another copy in the attic. The framed poster has become a cherished addition to their bedroom. (And no, I didn’t charge him for the poster.)

Back to the commute: Each way the trip generally takes 45 to 60 minutes. We avoid most of the morning traffic by leaving White Plains around 6:45. The first bottleneck usually presents itself at the Bronx border, around Van Cortlandt Park, near an area under construction. It’s always amusing, and somewhat dispiriting, to read an electronic sign alongside the roadway telling motorists “Your speed is 4 mph.”  

Crossing the Fordham Road Bridge can be a pain, but the most exasperating part of the journey centers on the double-parked trucks along Fifth Avenue above 125th Street that shunt two lanes of traffic into one.

Below Marcus Garvey Park, it’s an open road until we get to Mount Sinai Hospital. I’m amazed the hospital doesn’t flex its muscle and demand better traffic control at its doorstep. From 102nd Street to 98th, even ambulances with blaring sirens have a hard time penetrating trucks and taxis that are double-parked. It’s the same obstacle course later in the day when I return. 

Here are a couple of things I wonder about:

Having spent the last two days driving in fog and rain, barely seeing the white lane markers, I wonder if there is an inexpensive way to paint fluorescent lane markers on our streets and highways;

I wonder if there is some secret international diplomacy afoot behind the drop in gasoline prices. I wonder if the United States has not struck a deal with Saudi Arabia to let the barrel price of oil float to its market level. Many analysts opined the Saudis did not back an OPEC cutoff of supply as a means of hurting Iran and Venezuela that don’t have the financial resources to withstand lower oil prices the way the Saudis do. 

My guess is the real target is Russia, part of the Obama administration’s overall plan to fiscally squeeze Moscow because of its actions in Ukraine and Crimea.