VOICES IN MY HEAD: Don’t leave home without your traffic jam safety kit

Published 6:43 pm Thursday, April 18, 2019

HEATHER REGAN WHITE | sdneditorial@yahoo.com

Bridge construction and other infrastructure projects have turned the interstate and highways into parking lots lately. Most mornings, as far as the eye can see, traffic is stuck on La. 27. Alternate routes are just as bad.

We all have demands and it’s easy to give in to the frustration and let your time spent waiting be clouded with simmering rage.

But there are plenty of things you can do in preparation for your journey to make your wait in traffic less soul crushingly awful.

Before leaving home to go anywhere in Calcasieu Parish:

• Use the bathroom. I cannot stress this enough. It is crucial to try, even if you don’t feel like you have to go. But, just in case, prep like an astronaut and bring Depends.

• Make sure you are wearing clean underwear. Your mama told you to. And, if you are overcome by road rage, engage in fisticuffs, get arrested and are consequently strip-searched, you’ll be happy you did.

• Make sure you have at least half a tank of gas. Do NOT believe your husband when he says the E doesn’t mean it is completely empty.

• Make sure your phone battery is charged. Download a word search or crossword puzzle app. Make a playlist of short stand-up comedy clips from Youtube.

• Make sure you have bottled water. Sip sparingly. Bring snacks that aren’t too salty. Make sure you have enough snacks for the number of passengers.

• Make sure you kiss all those you are leaving behind and tell them you love them. Take their photos and send one of yourself to them. You may not see each other for a while.

• Be sure to bring noise-canceling headphones, particularly if you have to travel with children.

• Decide whether an activity planned for your children is absolutely necessary. If not, put it off until road construction is complete. By then, they’ll be too old for the trampoline center.

While at a complete stop in traffic:

• Clean all the spots in your car accessible while wearing a seatbelt with the nearly dry baby wipes that have been sliding around your floorboards since your oldest child was 3.

• Ladies, clean out your purse and eat all the candy you find at the bottom.

• Clean out the picture files on your phone.

• Make a list of your enemies.

• Clean out your email.

• Read a book or, even better, your local newspaper.

• If you find yourself stuck in traffic with fractious children, it is best to have a hands-off policy with regard to disciplining them. Put your headphones on, adjust your rear-view mirror so you can’t see them and turn your music up. Toss some Capri Suns and Cheez-its over your shoulder and let survival of the fittest take its course in the back seats. Just make sure they know getting an ambulance will be unlikely so they’ll have to soothe any concussions or broken bones with their tepid Capri Suns and a fuzzy Advil you found while cleaning out your purse.

I have no advice for drivers with regard to actually driving. Merging is a big issue. The recommended zipper maneuver seems beyond the reach of most local motorists. But I do believe everyone can be patient. We can be kind. Let at least one person go in front of you. Even if they don’t deserve it.