Words by Sarah Hillman Art by Serena Ang
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimised by peak hour traffic. I mean, let’s face it guys…she’s a bitch.
Growing up, a lot of us dream of the day when we are free to commandeer a vehicle on our own. You grab the keys and head out, happy as the independent clam you are, only to realise that the whole of Melbourne apparently had the same idea. Suddenly, your life is a highway, but you do not want to ride this one all night long.
The sea of red brake lights mess with your head and you start to question, has the Monash Freeway become your new home? Have you and the car seat become one? Will you need to forfeit your dignity and pee in the bushes? Before you commit public indecency or resign yourself to spiralling into existential contemplation, let’s see what (semi) productive alternatives can see us through the journey.
1. Pump up the jams
The classic way to survive the commute. Make full use of your AUX cord and get those beats going, loud. A personal favourite is Spotify’s Guilty Pleasures playlist which covers just about everything you will need to turn your trip from chaotic to cathartic. Whether you feel like indulging your inner Britney or getting some ABBA action going, crank it up and let loose. Bonus points if your fellow commuters start vibing along with you!
2. Sustenance = survival
You’re driving home from class, tired, and traffic slows to a crawl just as your stomach decides it’s empty. Rather than listen to echoing whale calls for another 40 minutes, start your journey prepared. Stock up on snacks and drinks that will soothe the hangry-ness, so maybe you decide not to flip off the driver that just cut you off. Maybe.
3. Share the love
A problem shared is a problem halved, right? Find a pal who is travelling to the same destination and carpool! If that pal has some solid tea to spill, then even better. Or at the very least, you have someone to be the Terry to your Crews while you recreate the A Thousand Miles scene from White Chicks.
4. Hasta la vista, traffic
Is the Duolingo owl haunting your nightmares? Ward it away by honing your skills and listening to a language podcast. The Coffee Break language series focuses on beginners preparing for overseas adventures. You’re now free to daydream you are on the Spanish coast instead of banging your head against the steering wheel.
5. Police, who?
Sure, slow-rolling traffic can get to drivers. They pick up their phones and think they can pass the time by checking some messages. But with so many people on the road, no one wants their safety jeopardised for the sake of one person replying to a booty call. For those of you who have the guts, turn peak hour into a public service mission. Roll down the window, toot your horn, flash your lights…do whatever you have to do to (politely) tell the culprit to take their eyes off their phone and back onto the road.
6. Glove box not garbage bin
If I’m honest with myself, the half-eaten muesli bar sitting in my glove box definitely does not spark joy but is frankly, gross. If times get desperate, why not get some peak hour procrasti-cleaning happening? Bring a bag to shove all of your shame into, or just pile it onto the passenger seat so you are truly confronted by your messy habits.
7. Hit that note
I dreamed a dream of…actually driving more than 10 kilometres per hour. Calling all musical fiends out there: soundtracks make the perfect long-haul drive material! Think Les Mis, think Grease. Dust off those vocal cords—this one is sure to see you right through to your destination.
Peak hour doesn’t have to be the daily trudge that drains the spirit from your soul. Having said that, consider leaving the keys at home and giving PTV a shot. Although equally busy and perhaps not the most reliable, you can devote that commute time to doing more active things. Reading a book, writing your essay, trawling through dogspotting pages—whatever floats your train/bus/tram. It’s also a little kinder to the planet and your wallet! Spending less on petrol and not releasing as many greenhouse gases? Yes please.
Just remember, whichever way you choose to battle peak hour, always pee before you leave. No one wants to do a Bear Grylls.