Roll out of bed 10 minutes before class, stumble lazily across the street to Cramer Hall and take your seat with one minute to spare – for many students this is a daily reality, but for others it is a dream that will never be realized. Some students, by choice or necessity, live in distant lands (Gresham and Beaverton) where the only feasible option is to commute. For these brave souls there are some important tricks to learn to survive the long trek ahead.
Planning the perfectly timed trip
No one wants to be early for school. Many of us work, sometimes two jobs on top of school, and we are well aware how precious sleep is. Do you really want to waste 15 precious minutes of your day sitting in an empty classroom, when you could be spending those 15 magnificent minutes in slumberville?
Start timing your trips the first week of school. At the end of the week you’ll have a rough average and a basic knowledge of traffic conditions. Sure sometimes you’ll be late, but what’s more important than sleep to the busy college student?
Remember the costs that go into driving. AAA estimates that an average car costs about $100 per week to maintain, and this is from an organization that wants you to drive as much as possible. If you’re going to drive, be prepared. You do not want to be stuck riding the bus because you can’t afford to fix your busted clutch. A hundred dollars might be excessive for some budgets, so save what you can. Buy fewer drinks next time you’re out at the bar, rent the latest DVD instead of buying it, and coax a few free meals out of your next couple of dates.
This is nothing new – everyone has heard this advice before. There are numerous carpool resources on the web, but who wants to ride with strangers? It’s best to trick your friends into riding with you or, better yet, picking you up. And if you don’t have any friends with similar schedules? Well, then you must make some. It’s more than likely there are tens of other drivers in your class aching for companionship on their long trips. Be sophisticated, and charming, until you feel comfortable casually mentioning that your new best friend goes 15 minutes out of their way to pick you up every morning.
Long car rides are perfect for accomplishing those meandering tasks that don’t time into your busy schedule, breakfast and studying. When you eat on the road make sure to lay a towel on your lap and only eat food wrapped in bread. This will minimize spillage. You don’t want to be the dirty kid in class everyone laughs at.
When studying in the car the most important rule is: don’t die. Do not set the book on the passenger seat to read while driving. If you do this you will die. Save your last-minute cramming for rush hour when you are moving at non-death speeds. If you happen to be reading Proust or Nietzsche make sure you hold the book up high, with the title visible, so that cute driver next to you will know how deep and wise you are.
Know when to use road rage correctly
Yelling and blasting the horn at someone from a moving car is not only hilarious, but is also an effective way to let other drivers know exactly who is in charge. When overused though, road rage becomes less potent. Save those moments when you feel like laying on your horn and screaming obscenities for when the subject really deserves it. If someone is driving a little too slow, let it slide – same if someone cuts you off. Remember, you’d do it too if you could. It’s a war out there. Save that horn for the people who won’t let you merge on the freeway or for those who make you miss your stop because they can’t stand to lose five seconds on their trip. When you find someone who truly deserves your rage, honk that horn and tell them what they are in case they don’t know. This will assert your superiority to all around, and all will think twice before they mess with you when you’re late for school.
How to fight madness
If you travel an hour a day, five days a week for the whole school year, then you will have spent a total of eight days and eight hours commuting. A considerable chunk of time. So how do you fill up this time without going mad? Music, music, music! The most important part of any car trip is the tunes. Some misguided individuals will suggest that you listen to soothing music to calm your nerves before you partake in a day of learning, but they couldn’t be more wrong. You want to listen to the heaviest, most offensive music to put you on edge. Like jocks listening to AC/DC right before a big match, you should be listening to Slayer or NWA if you really want to have the upper hand on your fellow students. While everyone else in the class will be nursing their coffee hoping to stay awake, you’ll be ramped in the front row with your hand jutting up for every question, whether you know the answer or not.
Finding parking in Portland is a skill that takes years to acquire. Many misinformed people believe that in order to find parking they must drive as far away from campus as possible. The truth is while most of the public is fighting for spots outside of the Safeway, there are probably a few prime spots waiting for you right on campus. Look by the Broadway Building or across from Shattuck Hall and you will usually see someone getting in their car. This same phenomenon exists in grocery stores. More people usually pile into the express lines because they think it will be quicker, when the regular cashiers are left alone. Do you really want to walk all that way? Of course not! That’s why you have a car. Exercise is for suckers.