I was reminded, yesterday, of all the reasons I love retirement. Why the idea of going back to work makes me feel ill.

The day was beautiful. Perfect summer. Bright blue cloudless sky. Comfortable temperatures in the high 70s. A slight breeze. Minimal humidity.

I needed a prescription from my doctor in Needham. It’s 50 miles away, but normally it’s about 45 or 50 minutes drive time. Not, however, on Friday afternoon in mid-July. If you live around here, you know a summer weekend starts Thursday afternoon, and climaxes late Friday when everyone is coming home from work, jumping in the family buggy, and taking off for somewhere else.

Boston road signs

New York, New Hampshire, Cape Cod. The population of New York is on its way to New England. The mid-Atlantic and New England regions do a population swap every weekend during July and August.

We forgot. It was the day of the asshole driver. The ones who cut you off, the ones who hog the lane driving slow, but refuse to let you pass.

There were endless stretches of “construction” consisting of miles of orange cones without a worker or machine in sight. Closed lanes and crawling traffic. Accidents. Little ones on the side of the road which required each driver to slow down for a good, long look. Major accident with sirens, police cars, and ambulances. Accidents which close lanes in two directions … and of course require all drivers to stop and take an even longer look.

Police, supposedly there to keep traffic moving, who hang out casually in the middle of the road having a friendly chat with fellow officers about upcoming dinner plans — making it impossible for traffic to move. They get paid extra for that.

It wasn’t just one road. It was everywhere. Bumper-to-bumper for miles in every direction.

When we got to the doctor’s office and they’d forgotten to get the prescription ready — atypical of this usually efficient medical group — I was ready to have a temper tantrum. To lay on the floor, kick, and scream. I didn’t. I simply said we’d just spent a couple of hours getting there through the worst possible traffic and I wasn’t leaving without my prescription.

I got my prescription.

We took Route 20 home, which means we got home. Otherwise, we’d most likely still be out there, in our car. On the road. Dehydrated. Demoralized. Depressed. Dying of starvation and probably snapping at each other for want of anyone else to blame for our own gross miscalculation in planning to drive in and out of Boston on a Friday afternoon in the summertime.


For all the years I commuted, with a daily deadline requiring getting there, though hell or high water. For all the years I dragged my reluctant carcass out in the morning to plow through traffic to meet a deadline that was not a deadline, but a lost hope. Because the product or project had long since gone off the rails but no one had told me, this experience was a ghastly reminder.

Did I work better under pressure? No. I worked regardless of pressure. Really, I worked best with encouragement, resources, and sufficient time to do the job properly. When those conditions could no longer be met, I worked less and less well until finally, I could not work at all.

I doubt anyone works “better” under pressure. Just some people deal with it and others break down.

Modern management has a lot to learn about how to get the best from their workers. They don’t seem to be learning.


  1. I agree. What bothers me most now is watching my children fight the race. It seems they can not get away from work. Their cell phones, emails keep them forever needlessly in touch with others who should also be taking a break! I love my retired life.


    1. You just nailed the biggest thing about cell phones I hate. They are electronic leashes. You are never free. Bosses can get to you in the middle of the night, on vacation … and they have been known to get downright nasty if you turn OFF your phone. You never really get time off as long as you are permanently on call.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘Ditto’ to absolutely everything in this post, Marilyn. We have traffic just like that – the motorways become car parks. I’ve been retired eight years and wonder how the heck I coped with the pressures and anxieties of work.


  3. Having just come back from California, I have to say that what amounts to traffic in Mexico is nothing compared to CA! It may take as long, but there are not as many roads and interchanges to confuse one. I usually listen to audiobooks when I drive. It makes for less frustration, since it doesn’t seem like such a waste of time. My sympathies are with you. Thank goodness you got your meds! http://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/07/18/retirement/


    1. Audiobooks have always been a life saver, but they are no longer on CD. Most are downloads and our cars are old and the sound systems in them are old. And broken. Not likely to be replaced any time soon, unfortunately. There is a definite downside to technology moving on, but not having the money to keep up with it.


      1. Do you have a laptop or an ipod or smartphone? You can download to any of them and play in the car. You can even get them through your library online and you don’t have to pay!


        1. I have more than a thousand audiobooks in my Audible library. I was one of its first members and I pay the original price, which is about half what they charge now. I have computers, etc. But. Garry is very hard of hearing. He can’t hear any of the speakers on any portable device, nor can he wear headphones while driving. So we play music CDs. I could work out something for myself alone, but we count on each other to deal with navigation and other stuff which happens on the road.


  4. I loved in London – getting out of London on a Friday afternoon was a nightmare. Gridlocked traffic for hours. So I know just how you feel. Exhausting. Mind blowing.
    Now I live 5 minutes from town. The only traffic jam is when the train comes through the centre of town. A relief really.


  5. I think we are very lucky, but then we never really go far and if we do, we prefer the train. It would be about 30 minutes to Bern by road (motorway and holiday traffic), but if we take the local train (special connection to Bern) it would be 40 minutes, but you know you will get there with nothing in the way and the station in Bern is in the town. since our retirement we avoid all stress road situations, I don’t think we could cope


    1. We are usually good at avoiding traffic, but most of the medical facilities we need are in or around Boston. Garry’s primary doctor is out here, but all of mine are at Boston Hospitals or in very near suburbs. I need specialists that aren’t available in such a rural area as we live in. And we don’t have trains. Or buses. There’s simply no choice. I wish there was.


    1. I think the world is becoming one gigantic traffic jam. It has been heading in that direction as long as I can remember and I see no evidence of it getting better any time soon. The cars are part of what is killing us and the planet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When we were posted in Uttarakhand state of India there were villages located at a height where there were no roads, people have never heard of cars. Those were such remote places where no one had seen cars. Totally cut off from main road…. they walked and lived 100 years or more.


        1. I think modern life is not as healthy as we want it to be. We used to take vacations in places where time had stood still. In a lot of ways, this town is at least 50 years out of touch. Not in every way, but a lot. It’s one of the things I (mostly) like about it.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I recently found a “shortcut” home. At this time of year the population of Cornwall is multiplied around 4 times. This shortcut is several miles further but cuts 10-15 minutes off my commute. It’s 19 miles and in August, without the shortcut, takes around 45 minutes :-(.


    1. We also suffer from tourism. Sometimes I forget that before I lived here, we used to drive up here to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. And we are very close to Cape Code (to the south) and the mountains, to the west and north. We are surrounded by top tourist locations. Add that to the regular traffic … well … it’s bad. I’ve give up on the GPS. It will never route you by a back road. Ever. Route 20 is not a highway, just the old post road from Boston to Albany. If we hadn’t taken it, I think we’d still be sitting in traffic … except Garry assures me he would have committed at least one violent crime and I’d be trying to bail him out of jail.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I have been lucky in my commuting to and from work lately. Our offices moved within 10 minutes of my home last year and it has been a pleasure to drive the back road, usually unobstructed by traffic or orange cones. 🙂 But then, I get to the office and am surrounded by those same drivers who are discourteous on the road! You can’t win!


  8. Mentally, I’m over yesterday’s highway trek nightmare. Physically, my body is still aching and tired. We got home just in time. I was ready to do something really bad and I’m too old to do a stretch in the big house.


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