The Unwanted Return of Traffic

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Of all the things we were looking forward to returning from hiatus while we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic was probably at the very bottom of the list.

First-run movies are slowly returning to theaters, but some of us aren’t quite ready for that yet. As much as I love movies, I don’t see myself wearing a mask inside a movie theater for upwards of two hours. Do you know how many times you move that mask up and down to finish a medium popcorn?

Outdoor seating at restaurants was attractive when it was 70 degrees. In January, I don’t want to eat soup wearing my parker and a scarf. Do you adjust your tip accordingly when the steam coming out of your mouth is more prevalent than what’s coming off your salmon? I’ve seen enough NFL playoff games from the frozen tundra in Green Bay to know I’m not going to enjoy that experience.

Working from home every day is starting to take its toll—on my waistline. I’m not the only one eating more and exercising less. Not sure I could have less activity in my life and still stand erect. My house is less than 1,000 square feet. Even if I did count my steps, I wouldn’t need any additional fingers or toes.

Eating home-cooked meals every night has been an excellent return to the “good ‘ole” days. Unfortunately, it requires that you actually cook your meals at home. That involves shopping, preparing, chopping, cooking and cleaning. The last time I looked, we weren’t living in a world of “Lucy and Ricky” anymore. We still like to order pizza or get Chinese food delivered. But is that really 100 percent safe yet? We’re just not ready to throw caution to the wind and head to the Massapequa Diner for pork chops while this pandemic continues to rage on.

Of all the things we want, how did traffic sneak back into our lives?
Maybe we’ve become more sensitive to its return because we haven’t had to deal with too much traffic. Obviously, people are returning to work but aren’t ready to use the LIRR. That’s putting a lot of Oldsmobiles on the road again.

Since I’m not under house arrest, I do venture out to get supplies and run errands. I’m not agoraphobic. Instead of putting gas in my car twice a week, now I’m lucky if I stop for gas twice a month. I wonder if Allstate will give me a discount for the “least number of miles driven per month?” Then again, I’ve been checking the “Travels less than five miles to work each day” box on my insurance renewal for the last 25 years, so I guess I should keep my mouth shut.

It took me more than an hour to traverse the 19 miles from Bellerose to Massapequa last month. Traveling on Route 110 recently, I made a stop my office in the Huntington Quadrangle for tech support. Coming home around 4 p.m., you would have thought it was 2019 all over again. So many cars are trying to get home, just like old times.

Don’t these people know there is a pandemic?
I stopped worrying about traffic reports, map and bottlenecks a few years ago since my commute was reduced to only seven miles. Problems on the LIE by New Hyde Park? Who cares? Oh, look, there’s another tie-up on the Southern State westbound just past the Wantagh Parkway. Yawn.

During April and May, traffic maps were mostly “green,” indicating no traffic. Have you seen those maps lately? All the usual troubled roads are back to “yellow,” “red,” and in some cases, the dreaded “brown.”

Let’s do our best to help society get back to where we can enjoy the things in life that are important to us. We need to get the commuters off the roads and feeling comfortable about returning to using the LIRR.

Then we can have all the traffic back to ourselves again.

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