Precision Timing

by Zach Billings on March 24, 2011

Precision TimingI’ve been noticing the precision of morning commute timing more and more recently. Personally, I have a morning routine that does not vary and is timed to the second. Alarms go off at 5 minute intervals from 6:55 to 7:15 to pull me from REM sleep. I then get 5 minutes to fool my mind into thinking it got more sleep, before my 7:20 alarm indicates it’s time to get my ass up. The 7:25 and 7:28 alarms are backups in case I over sleep, and are timing indicators for the rest of my morning routine.

When I get up at 7:20, I get dressed in less than a minute, with clothes that I laid out the night before. I pack up my laptop and Bose headphones and I’m out the door. Next I run down stairs, throw my shoes on, and run out to start the car. The keys are already in my left pants pocket. I run back inside, leaving the laptop and my jacket by the door. I then run upstairs to brush my teeth, wash my face, and dunk my hair in the shower. The 7:25 alarm goes off seconds after I enter the bathroom and the 7:28 alarm indicates, while I’m soaking my hair, that I’m on schedule. After drying my hair and putting a little gel in it, it’s 7:31 on my watch and I’m off.

I buzz down the roads going, admittedly, a bit fast. The first school bus obstacle is just arriving at the stop that it could potentially slow me up at. I get past it by about 10 seconds. Next I see the black and gray Camaro RS which passes me every morning going the other way. On time.

Now I take the right from Central St onto Edgell Rd. The black Legacy GT wagon with Hella rally fog lights passes me. I always notice it’s driven by a woman in her late 30s or early 40s. Gotta love Subies. Now I bang a left onto Belknap, racing for the intersection with Groove St. There is a bus that will come from the other end of Belknap and will turn onto Groove in front of me. It’s at the intersection when I get there, but it doesn’t win. Now I step on it going up Groove to beat the bus that has two stops going in the opposite direction. The goal is to get past it before it makes the stops. Mission accomplished.

Now there are no more standard obstacles. Just a couple Priuses that can slow me up. If I get lucky (which I usually do at that time) I don’t run into any slow drivers. I get onto the Marlboro stretch of Route 20 at 7:45 and have time to stop at Dunkin and still punch in at 7:56.

This morning I got out of bed at 7:21. I got to work at 7:57. Without Dunkin. Routine broken…

I find it fascinating how predictable and precise the morning commute is. Everyone has a plan and a procedure and I’m sure there are dozens of cars that I pass every day at the same time that are just too generic to be noticed. If my timing is correct, chances are theirs will be too. So long as it is, I can plan my commute to within 30 seconds. Pretty cool.

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