We are entering the exciting season of I-70 traffic jams and borderline road-rage psychopathy. In heated debates, we discuss the possible culprits: the government, Californians or that ever-popular scapegoat, idiots. Leaving the house at 5 a.m. go-time, dead-eyed, over-caffeinated and mostly still drunk, dreading the impending hangover, we crawl along in our 5mph quest to shred the GNAR. Our efforts, however valiant, are inevitably hindered by shotty windshield wipers, a friend who slept through his alarm, the other friend who forgot her boots/pass/wallet, another friend who promised he could drive – only to remember his license is suspended – or, my personal favorite, the friend who takes twenty minutes at the gas station to have “the most amazing experience” conversing with the gas station clerk about the price of granola. I’m looking at you, Suzanne.
How to cope with the frozen hellscape that is I-70? Here are five recommendations to improve your experience:
1) Drink. We can thank the Irish for this, because they knew bullshit often happens before noon and, having no coping mechanisms other than alcohol, they created Irish Coffee. Knock a few back and let that white-out turn into a hazy kaleidoscope. Drinking offsets the anger and frustration with terror and fear. This is an important transition, because if you reach your destination angry, the anger may sit in the parked car while you are ripping down East Wall at A-Basin – but it sits there stewing, ready to take over your emotions when you come back. Terror is much better — because terror is exhausting, and if you played your cards right and stopped drinking once you got to the resort, the terror may be sound asleep by the time you’re heading back to hell-scape part II.
2) Resurrect your faux dead bodies from Halloween. However skillful, resourceful or lucky you may be, there is no escaping the horrifying parking lot on I-70. So why not keep yourself amused by terrorizing the person behind you? While in gridlock, simply hop out of the car, pop open your trunk (this works much better for wagons — pay attention, Subaru owners) and grab a random item while "accidentally" letting some body parts fall out. Make sure to make eye contact with the driver behind you and then, panicked, scramble to shove those body parts back into your car, slam the door shut and nimbly hustle back to your driver seat.
3) Call your creditors. You have time to burn, why not burn someone else’s time? When you get through to said creditor, tell them you are talking to the police and you will have to put them on hold. Press mute. Repeat as often as you like.
4) Experience spiritual epiphany. While in gridlock, say this to your passengers: “Hold on a second, I have to go check something.” Turn off the car, take the keys, and pretend to be looking for something. Walk home, empty your bank account, fly to Alaska and seek out a hippie to marry. Make your new living tying rocks around twisted metal and selling it on Etsy.
5) Mull. Politics in America today gives us plenty to mull over: income inequality, criminal bankers, Donald Trump, drone attacks – the list is quite endless. If you have managed to conquer politics with apathy, instead mull over the last questionable excuse your current/ex gave you about why they bailed on plans. Your imagination can conjure wild scenarios. If you're lacking an active imagination, spend the time developing a “potential password list” for your current/ex’s phone/e-mail/Facebook. You can easily kill two hours doing this.
Have additional recommendations for coping with I-70’s traffic? Share them in the comments section.
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Benjamin Smith is a freelance writer and satirist with a master's degree in communication from Michigan State University. This is his first piece for Westword.