Ever go out to run an errand in the middle of the day, hit a huge snarl of traffic and think to yourself, "Who ARE all these people? Don't they have jobs?". To answer your questions, it's me, and it turns out that my job basically is to drive around in circles all day. Sorry about holding you up.
Like any professional, I have developed some tools of the trade that have been integral to my (modest) success at my work:
1. Audio support from Audible.com: When you drive like I do, 5 minute songs just don't cut it. Go for the unabridged epic novel, preferably one that has sequels. I got through the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in about a week and a half last year.
2. Military-style passenger management tactics: TV, off! Shoes, on! Move it, soldier! I said MARCH! You too, doggie! You can pee when you're dead!
3. Well-stocked vehicle: Bottled water, snacks (adult, kid, dog), reading materials (wait time!), plastic bags, nav system, chargers (phone, ipod, DS, PSP), coloring supplies, balls (basketball, soccer, old tennis balls, rubber balls), karate gear, kickboxing gear, umbrella, paper towels, eyeglass cleaner.
4. A mental map of all the great places to stop for food along the way.
In case this is all too abstract, I thought I would share today's route with you.
8 am: Depart home base en route to basketball camp. Begin conference call.
8:05 am: Pick up another camper. Mute call.
8:30 am: End call.
8:40 am: Camp drop-off. Thank you, carpool lane on the 405!
9:05 am: Reward stop! Santa Monica Seafood and Huckleberry Bakery*. Ordinarily way too far from home, but totally on the way today. Breakfast (maple bacon biscuit, baby!) and dinner (ahi tuna!) in one fell swoop.
9:20 am: Spy slew of open parking spaces at Bay Cities! Rarity draws me in, and I pick up some of their amazing bread** for my lunch.
10 am: Pick up dog at home.
10:05 am: Dog park. Dog meets lovely family with small child. Takes ball from small child. Dog pops the ball between his huge sharp teeth, then proceeds to romp and play with deflated plastic shell until he has ripped it to shreds across the park. Luckily, the mom has great sense of humor and recognizes this was all her fault for bringing the child and the ball to the DOG park. Smiles all around.
10:30 am: Drop dog at home.
10:50 am: Late for yoga, but not as late as usual. Must stretch away that biscuit.
12:30 pm: Gas light bright yellow. Funny, don't remember being low on gas this morning. Detour to Shell station that is always 2 cents cheaper that most places, and a good 20 cents cheaper than anything in my neighborhood. This stop is not on the map above, because it is my secret gas station.
1 pm: Pick up Mom and Elena at home.*** Dog comes along for the ride and to get his head rubbed all the way to Burbank. Get some good financial advice**** from Suze Orman, via Mom, along the way.
1:30 pm: Drop Elena off.
1:40 pm: Drop Mom off.
1:50 pm: Reward stop! Porto's Bakery. Large Diet Coke to go, plus cheese rolls***** for dessert tonight.
2:30 pm: Arrive home again. Dog collapses with exhaustion.******
Break out the salami. Make a sandwich. Turn on the laptop. Get to work.
Total distance covered: 85.5 miles. I kid you not.
* Yes, that place.
** It is crusty on the outside, slightly tangy, and soft and chewy inside. It's pretty much the world's most perfect bread for sandwiches. It costs $1.39 for an entire loaf, hot from the oven, and they bake them fresh all day long. I say, skip the sandwich line there, and just make your own. My treat today was bread, butter, calabrese salami, a few shavings of Parmesan cheese, and some snipped chives.
*** Do not use Military Passenger Management Tactics with these particular passengers. Instead, ask nicely if they are ready and help them with their things.
**** Keep cash on hand to cover about 6-9 months of your basic household expenses as a rainy-day fund.
***** Their cheese rolls are basically croissant pastry, wrapped around a cheese filling that is just slightly sweet, with a dusting of sugar on top. Flaky, buttery, sugary, and then that great cheesy custard middle. Perfection.
****** Why he is tired I will never know. He probably swallowed some plastic from that ball and I'll have to drive to the vet tomorrow.