Traffic on Mondays is typically superb. By superb I mean the traffic lights switch to green when I arrive, other drivers thoughtfully merge onto the highway with fluidity and adroitness, and, for some unknown reason, Highways 5 and 90 stay wide open, allowing me to zip to work in around 20 minutes. Mondays are good traffic days.
Traffic on Tuesdays is typically abysmal. By abysmal I mean the traffic lights are never green ever, other drivers mindlessly poke along onramps and stumble onto the highways, and, as it too often occurs, Highways 5 and 90 are backed up to New Jersey, forcing me to spend 40 vexing minutes in traffic. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays — especially Fridays! — are bad traffic days.
I put this time in traffic to good use. Some probably think low of me, believing that I use this time to construct creative ways to condemn the circumstances. This is incorrect. I spend 50% of my commute listening to music, 50% listening to the radio, and the other 50% devising rational explanations for variations of traffic. Today my project was to come up with reasons why Mondays almost always have the best traffic. I have come up with a few reasons, but none I think offer a complete explanation:
- Most firings take place on Fridays. This means come Monday, there are fewer people who have jobs to go to. Fortunately, our economy is strong and they all have jobs again by Tuesday.
- Mondays are the days many people are recovering from weekend benders. Therefore, they call in sick, go to work late, or just continue to sleep.
- Since Mondays are the first work day of the week, some people start the week off slow, thus getting on the road late and thereby spreading out the commute load over several hours instead of one mad hour of crawling to work.
- Tying into #3, since many people got to work late on Mondays, they make extra sure they get to work on time the rest of the week. Thus, these people all crowd onto the highways at precisely the same moment.
- People hate Mondays so it is natural for people on vacation to take Mondays off. Seriously, if you had to take one day off of work, you’d pick Monday, right? Nobody wants to take casual Friday off.
Though these explanations seem compelling at first, I hold they do not offer sufficient explanation for why traffic on Tuesdays is twice as bad as traffic on Mondays. And, I would emphasize, as a dilligent student of traffic patterns, this behavior holds across weather conditions. A Tuesday with the same weather as the Monday will still have considerably poorer traffic than a Monday.
Traffic patterns continue to puzzle me. I spend roughly an hour a day in the midst of it, yet I cannot explain it. Explanations I have seen may account for some parts of it but clearly not all of it. If traffic ever makes me go crazy it won’t be because of a lost temper, a stupid driver, or the slow pace. I will go crazy because I cannot figure why it happens the way it does.