Stuck in Traffic as a Blessing (not a curse...or even cursing)!

Home Inspector with Precision Home Inspection

traffic jamI’m learning to love being stuck in traffic.


OK, I admit to minor road rage, and deep irritation with trucks, construction crews and minivans in the left lane (aren’t they always at the front of a slow lane of traffic?).  But that was the OLD me.


The NEW me is learning to love being held captive in my car on the Schuylkill Expressway (commonly called the “SureKill” by most locals) – which is a good thing since a recent study rates Philly as the 6th worst rush hour, and places one stretch of local roads 4th worst in the nation!


Let me ‘splain my new attitude….


Part of it has to do with logic, part of it is a new appreciation of Zen, and most of it has to do with social media and advertising.


Traffic is unavoidable.  You will be stuck and you can’t do much about it.  Accept this fact, and use it!  (This is the logic part).  Go over your mental to-do list, get blog ideas (no, not about that jerk who won’t let you in), or return a call. My digital voice recorder built into my visor is great for this purpose (leaving reminders, noting blog ideas, etc).  I don't know how I lived without this feature.


Other drivers aren’t conspiring against you, and there is a purpose to your frustration (obviously the Zen part).  No one else knows what a hurry you are in.  They didn’t do this on purpose.  Use this moment to accept where you are and that nothing can be changed about it at this time...and allow yourself to breathe deeply and reflect a little. 

  • Look around - appreciate the landscape, or notice a store or restaurant you have been meaning to try but keep forgetting about and make a note of it
  • Consider why you are stuck -  Bad planning on your part?  Trying to do too much?  Bad luck? (I don’t believe there is such a thing, but that’s a whole other blog).  Consider planning a new route for your next trip that drives you through the surrounding community, not past it.  You just might stumble on something wonderful or get to know an area better.  Consider spacing your schedule out a little more to relax your spirit and lower your blood pressure.
  • Be present in the moment.  Really look at the other drivers around you – not in a leering way, that’s creepy, but really see them.  You ‘get’ their frustration and angst and you would all rather be someplace else.  But you’re not –so own it and make the best of it…smile at other drivers, wave to the kids in the backseat of the car in front of you (with more than one finger, please), maybe even (gasp) let someone cut in.  Positive attitudes are contagious, and it relaxes you, too.

Leverage your social media presence and maximize this advertising opportunity.  Yes, sitting still is the perfect time to quickly tweet “Avoid 202 South at Rt. 30, it’s a MESS!”  Your friends/followers will appreciate the information, it’s useful content.  Making a habit of doing this (even to say “no traffic on 476 – yay!”) shows how busy you are and underscores the impression that you are all over the area. (Of course, I only recommend doing this when stopped and it can be done safely.)

 open road

This is an advertising opportunity to a captive audience.  For inspectors like me, the lettering on your vehicle is your billboard.  Considering how many drivers around you are using their cell phones right now – do you have a mobile-friendly social media link on your lettering?  For Realtors – do you have any way for other drivers to know you are a Realtor (license plate frame, vanity plate, etc) or a way to contact you?  The guy behind you is likely to be staring at your rear end for quite some time, talk about a captive audience!  Combined with your new positive attitude, it makes quite an impression.


Outdoor advertising companies make big bucks because companies want to get just 5 seconds of your attention as you whiz past – consider traffic to be your own personal billboard, and make the most of it.  It is also likely to make you a more careful and courteous driver, knowing that your driving reflects on your reputation!

So, relax the white-knuckled death grip on the wheel, breathe deeply, and use it as the opportunity it is.  (Yes, I make a lot of lemonade... ;-) )


Comments (42)

Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

So great that you have learned to control all of that.  I'm still trying to get to where I am going at the fastest rate, listening to some CD, but when I get stuck in traffic have learned to completely chill out and work.    That was a hard skill to learn.  

Dec 15, 2010 03:14 AM
Jim Bloodworth
ARC Realty - Birmingham, AL

Great ideas to consider when locked in traffic.  Always leave early, even though sometimes that won't help.  I've thought of buying a magnetic sign but haven't yet.  Appreciate your thoughts.

Dec 15, 2010 03:16 AM
Scott Bingham
BeaufortHomeTeam / Ballenger Realty - Beaufort, SC

Half of my market is on one side of the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW), half on the other.  In between is a two lane swing bridge with the downtown shopping district on one side and a overcrowded high school on the other.  The bridge opens to river traffic about every 40 minutes during the day. 

It used to kill me to get into one of the legendary 20 minute traffic stand stills.  But anymore, I have learned to count my blessings:

1) It really is a beautful area.  National historic district on one side, overlooking the river to the historic point on the other.  What's not to like?

2) Smart phones enable me to do all sorts of things right there in my car just as well as I can do them anywhere else!

3) What I can't do on my phone I can do on my laptop with my MiFi.  Twenty minutes at the bridge?  Perfect for knocking out a quick AR post!

4) It is the best excuse ever for being late anywhere anytime!  If you are ever late for ANYTHING, all you have to do is mutter something about the bridge on the way in and everyone that has been in Beaufort for more than a day knows exactly what you are talking about.

Just part of living just this side of heaven!

Dec 15, 2010 03:41 AM
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

Ah you brought me back to Valley Forge....lived there for only 1 1/2 years, but my daughter was born in Bryn Mawr. I remember that road, but being from California and used to commuting to LA, it didn't bug me too much. lol

Dec 15, 2010 03:49 AM
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

Nice attitude ... not stressing the traffic will add years to your life! Good suggestions as to what to do while we are stuck in a jam.

Dec 15, 2010 04:51 AM
Deborah Fox
Villager Realty Inc - Selinsgrove, PA

Oh Joe, some of the best conversations I ever had with my daughters were when they were stuck in traffic. They hated it -  I loved it -  and by the time traffic started to break up (they were around the DC area) they were calmer and I knew everything that was going on in their lives. Whose life can you make better while sitting there, hmmmm?  

Dec 15, 2010 05:10 AM
Lynda White
Bluegrass Homes & Farms Realty, Agent Know How - Louisville, KY
Admin. Mgr., Keller Williams Realty

I commute 25 miles each way, and sometimes traffic does get backed up. It's just part of it. I love where I live, and love where I work, but wish they were a little closer together.

Dec 15, 2010 05:26 AM
Jan Stevens
Coldwell Banker Pittsburgh - Cranberry Township, PA

Finding ANY positive way to use the time seems to be the key and the common message... I had a long commute at one point in my working life and listened to lots of audiobooks which I got free from the library. Now I overwork my phone -- calls, texts, and emails. One of the blessings of this career is that all the days are different; I'm not sitting in the same traffic jam at the same time every day...

Dec 15, 2010 05:46 AM
Jan Stevens
Coldwell Banker Pittsburgh - Cranberry Township, PA

Finding ANY positive way to use the time seems to be the key and the common message... I had a long commute at one point in my working life and listened to lots of audiobooks which I got free from the library. Now I overwork my phone -- calls, texts, and emails. One of the blessings of this career is that all the days are different; I'm not sitting in the same traffic jam at the same time every day...

Dec 15, 2010 05:47 AM
David Knox
David Knox Productions, Inc. - Minneapolis, MN

I agree with everything...but those of you in the left lane holding up traffic: move over so we don't have to use so much of our Zen.

Dec 15, 2010 05:47 AM
Robert Courtney
Lihue, HI
Century 21 All Islands, RA, CDPE, MCRE, CIAS

No traffic per se except in Kapaa!  Forgot a link!  Thank you Joseph.  

Dec 15, 2010 06:04 AM
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

The built-in voice recorder built into the visor sounds wonderful. How do you get the recordings off of it?

I hope everybody reads comment #17.

Dec 15, 2010 07:19 AM
Simon Mills
Mills Realty - Toluca Lake, CA

Best cure for from home!  Schedule your showings/listings between 10:00am and 3:00pm.  I know this is not always possible, but if I can think about my time when scheudling my appointments I find I am much more productive.

Dec 15, 2010 12:27 PM
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas

Great post Joseph and great attitude!!!!  Lemonde is good stuff!:)

Dec 15, 2010 03:03 PM
Dennis Neal
RE/MAX, Big Bear - Big Bear Lake, CA
Your Home Sold in 21 Days or We Sell It For Free

Traffic is a part of life in many areas, you have the right mindset. I also recommend books on tape.

Dec 16, 2010 03:23 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Back when I went to the office every day it was a 20-40 minute drive, depending upon whether the County had graded the road lately in summer and how much mud/snow/or ice there was in Fall, Winter, and Spring. It's only 12 miles, but when the roads are bumpy, gooey, or slick, it's slow.

There is no traffic to speak of - this is a very small community.

Now that I work from home and only go to town once or twice a week to do errands, I miss my quiet time. I listened to many, many educational and motivational CD's on that drive. In fact, that's where I learned that Jim Rohn advised us to think of traffic jams as "fascinating."

Now I'm listening to Law of Attraction CD's when I go to town - but maybe next trip I'll change my ways and put on some Christmas music. That's something else I don't hear enough of because I never turn on a radio.

Dec 16, 2010 08:39 AM
Liane Thomas, Top Listing Agent
Professional Realty Services® - Corona, CA
Bringing you Home!

Like Marte #38, I keep CDs in the car, affirmations, motivation, 80's music, anything that keeps me happy or relaxed, depending on my mood. I recently had a book on cd I listened to in bits and pieces while on longer trips. I found myself arriving at my destination with no recollection of driving there, was so engrossed in the book! 

Dec 17, 2010 02:31 AM
Margaret C. Taylor
Century 21 New Millennium MD - Mechanicsville, MD
St Marys/Calvert/Charles MD Real Estate Agent

Hi Joseph,  The new you has a great positive attitude.  You pointed out some great traffic benefits (I love that they are stuck memorizing the information on my magnetic sign).  Don't forget the health benefit "reduced stress" previously discussed by Cynthia.  Margaret C.

Dec 22, 2010 02:03 PM
Ty Lacroix
Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc - London, ON

Joe, good advice and using the idle time productive


Dec 25, 2010 04:03 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

I just stopped by to say that I hope you had a Merry Christmas today with lots of fun and food with family and friends.

Happy Holidays!

Dec 25, 2010 02:09 PM