Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Since starting a new job my morning commute consists of a four-mile bike ride uphill to Overbrook Train Station, where the R5 carries me onward to work at Radnor. That is unless it rains, in which case I take West Chester Pike to the Blue Route.
Rarely does a commute pass without a sense of urgency, by which I mean I'm usually running late. Over time that urgency has combined with my imagination to produce some names for various spots in the commute. The names aspire to the Homeric, and I enjoy them too much not to share them.
On the car route, just into Upper Darby one meets the Three Sisters. The Sisters are three traffic lights spaced very close together with seemingly no coordination as to when they turn red and seemingly no cross traffic ever on the streets they guard. The result is that if one doesn't get you, the other will, and if she doesn't the last will turn her Cyclopean glare on you.
At a similar point in the bike commute one meets Girard: Graveyard of the Proud. The foolhardy biker might meet the gradual incline that starts at Girard with a full head of steam. Were he to do so, the steeper incline he meets after turning onto Lancaster Avenue would surely mean his demise. To escape Girard intact requires humility.
Happy is the traveler who turns onto Lancaster Avenue and is passed by a SEPTA train going east before he reaches 59th Street. This train is called The Harbinger of You're-Probably-Okay. He can relax a bit, for his predecessors have all made it to the Elysian bliss of the 8:26 train.
The very last stretch, the length of 63rd Street between Lancaster and City Avenue, has a dual nature. On good days it is simply the Victory Ramp; on bad days the sudden short incline leading to the railroad bridge is the Tongue of Taunting.
Names like these give me a little extra bump when I am in a hurry in the morning. In the case of the bike ride that's a good thing because it can translate to faster riding. In the car, however, nothing I do makes lights greener or other drivers faster; I feel far more like Sisyphus than Odysseus.