Terrible Traffic Tuesday is a fairly well known phenomenon that refers to the day after Labor Day, when many people return to town after a quiet summer, the academic year begins, “real” work starts and Congress is back in session—all at the same time. It’s brutal.
But actually, I suffered through a different Terrible Traffic Tuesday of my own - one that ultimately ended up working out pretty great for one unexpected couple.
Terrible Tuesday at Tysons
A few years ago, my company was headquartered in Tysons Corner. Traffic in that part of town tends to be pretty awful no matter what. Coupled with the fact that the area is adjacent to I-66, I-495 and VA-267 and a major shopping complex, and the roads can come to an absolute standstill during any pre-holiday travel. While you’d think most people opt to shop online these days, apparently everyone in the DMV felt the need to descend on the Tysons Corner mall on the Tuesday afternoon prior to Thanksgiving.
The day started off well enough. My boss dismissed us all a few hours early so we could hit the road and avoid traffic on the way home. My coworkers and I said our goodbyes around 1 p.m. and headed to our cars. Unfortunately, it seemed every employer in a five-mile radius had the same idea. The parking complex was flooded with cars inching along the ramps just trying to navigate to the exit.
I texted a co-worker: “You stuck in this mess?”
Her response came less than 10 seconds later: “Yep.”
We continued to inch along. A cacophony of horns and the occasional curse word pierced the holiday music I had on high volume.
It took about 40 minutes to escape the parking structure and even then Waze was telling me I had about 2 hours until I was home safe and sound—a drive that typically took about 20 minutes.
I decided to persevere. After all, maybe there was just an accident ahead that would eventually clear and free up the roads for us.
The traffic seemed to only get worse. I watched my arrival time tick up up up: 3:45, 4:00, 4:11, 4:22. I gave up.
I texted my colleague to see if she’d made any more progress than I had and learned she was just two cars ahead of me. We decided to peel off at the closest Chipotle and sit tight for awhile.
We had our laptops, burritos, and chips and guac, and had hunkered down in a booth when a cute guy came angrily stomping through the door. He got in line to order some food and, once he had a burrito in hand, he appeared noticeably less cranky.
Burritos with a Beau
Instead of immediately heading out to his car, he approached our table.
“Hey,” he said, smiling down at us.
“Hi-i-i-i,” my co-worker and I responded, batting our lashes.
“I’ve been sitting in my car for over an hour and it’s packed in here. Mind if I join you guys?”
He slid into the booth next to me, facing my colleague.
“Not a problem,” we told him.
The three of us spent the next half hour trading war stories about traffic and found ourselves legitimately enjoying this random Chipotle “layover.” Before he got back in his car, the attractive stranger asked for my co-worker’s phone number.
Drinks on Black Friday
“I’d love to see you again under less dramatic circumstances,” he told her, still half laughing from her last joke.
She agreed and added herself to his contacts.
We thought that might be the last of him, but the next day my colleague got a text from him asking her out to drinks on the Friday after Thanksgiving. She accepted his offer and … that was her last first date.
A few months ago, they announced their engagement and toasted to the “terrible traffic” that brought them together forever.
Commuter Crush is published every Friday, just in time for your unintentional weekend hookups (or while you’re recovering from a debaucherous Thursday night). If you have an interesting story to share, let us know via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag us with #commutercrush.