Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A different world!

I'm enjoying being on the bike, but I'm not really getting much pleasure from my commute. Having done the 180 mile round trip freeway commute for a while, I'll tell you with firm conviction that it's a different world.

Things will change when we are able to move closer. Right now it's tough dealing with the school of commuter fish in a sea of traffic. The main currents run counter to my path of travel. This is a good thing. Most of the heavy commuter traffic runs North to South. I run the opposite. It doesn't seem to matter how early I leave. Commuter fish schools run all the time. Let me tell you about the habits of this species that I have to deal with.

Commuter fish come in all sizes and shapes. Most are small and dart in and out of the pack to try to gain some advantage in space and time. Some are really large. These seem intent on trying to intimidate other commuter fish into moving out of their way. I never really figured out where they're all going in such a hurry. All of them, regardless of size, seem to be bred with the same deeply ingrained instinct. Having space around them seems to freak them out. This species, as evidenced by countless hours watching them, has a great need to have their nose buried in the tail of the fish ahead.

I must be missing some important genes. That just doesn't seem an intelligent way to travel. It would be bad enough having to sniff a dirty fish butt ahead of you all the time. It would be worse yet to have something happen and suddenly finding your nose buried deep in the ass of the fish in front of you. It seems to happen to them all the time and yet the behaviour continues. "Fish frenzy" over-rides intelligence in this species, I think.

Not wishing to be mistaken for one of these fish, I avoid exhibiting similar behaviour. Ample physical distance is left ahead of me, for instance. This becomes truly tiring to maintain as the commuter fish has developed an awesome ability to "dive" into these small spaces. None of the fish just casually "move over". No, their movements are very sudden. I have yet to determine if this "diving" reflex is based upon a lack of brain cells or has become an inbred defense mechanism. If all the fish are in a frenzy than it would be expected that none would make way for another fish that would like to change lines. Only further research will reveal this to me. I am not looking forward to the project.

Two distinct problems face me when travelling among these schools. The large fish are very difficult to see around. I usually try to move to a place where I can look up what I call the "alley". That is, the space between two lines of moving fish. Which brings me to the second problem. Diving fish aren't real good at looking where they are going. Being too close to the other line means I'm open to the possibility of being clipped by a passing fish as it tries to dive in front of me. I find that the vigilance required on my part rapidly becomes tiring.

Today I found out that most of these commuter fish have limited awareness of their surroundings. Consider this.

There are two major swells, like I mentioned. The main swell moves from North to South. There is a bridge on the migration route. Two commuter fish collided as they were headed South. The larger of the two fish ended up upside down. As you can imagine, this caused quite a back-up in the Southerly flow. Unfortunately, the flow Northward was not entirely unaffected. All the commuter fish heading North had to pause to look at the carnage in the other stream. Not that they learn anything, mind you. As a matter of fact, during the slowing to look process, two fish in the Northerly flow collided, as well.

There are entities in the sea that deal with these things. Coming up behind me I saw flashing lights. Parting the commuter fish like a shark passing through, this creature with two fins was coming up the shoulder. Maybe "parting the commuter fish" is too strong a statement. Most of the commuter fish had no idea that the two finned creature with the lights was there. It was only its small size that allowed it to get by on the shoulder. I was tempted to follow this two-finned master of the sea but was concerned that it would turn on me at some point.

A compatriot of the two-finned creature came along a little later. This one had the flashing lights but was much larger. It had four fins. The progress of this second creature was much slower. Several times it had to utter high pitched noises to gain the attention of the commuter fish. Even then, response time was slow. It was plain that this larger creature was getting frustrated. If not for the urgency of its mission, I'm sure several of the commuter fish would have gotten devoured.

It was not my first choice to be doing research into these commuter fish. In order to accomplish my own goals I have found myself thrust into this role. It seems prudent to become familiar with their behaviour in order to keep myself unscathed. I have been trying to find a way to communicate with these travelling schools. Some ways have been both effective and antagonizing. For instance, flashing my brake lights seems to cause some to become aware of my presence and avoid colliding with me. Other times the same form of communication seems to awaken rage with corresponding behaviour. I have also tried hand gestures. The gestures have been returned in kind but somehow I feel that no bonding has taken place. Perhaps some day I may find the clue. I am just as likely to stay perplexed.

About 1 PM I ventured into this sea on my homeward journey. Most of the commuter fish were placid and we were left in peace. One very large and elderly commuter fish did cause me some concern. I actually believe this was more of a RV fish than a commuter fish. It was dragging a smaller fish behind it. Whichever it was, it made a rapid move into my path of travel. I managed to avoid contact but it left me shaking my head. How such a creature can survive in the sea while exhibiting symptoms of blindness escapes me at the moment.

There was some entertainment on the journey. These commuter fish must be afflicted with some sort of skin parasite. I observed where one had scraped its left side against a concrete wall. I can only figure it was trying to relieve some sort of skin irritation. The wall must have felt good to this individual as it stopped there for a while. Two other commuter fish were so enchanted by watching the first fish scrape the wall that they collided with each other. More of the creatures with flashing lights were on the scene.

What a different world this is. I may never understand these commuter fish but am forced to deal with them. I shall try to look upon it as an adventure.

Miles and smiles,


Steve Williams said...

How long until you move closer? Are you going to opt for a place with a non-freeway route to and from work?

Your fish analogy is great. I bet viewed from the air they do act like a school of fish.

I guess a cell phone is a sort of hook, hard to pry out of the fish too...

Ride carefully out there.


irondad said...

Probably sometime between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. You can bet your boots I will find a way that does not involve the freeway!!

Take care,