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Wednesday 29 November 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Eamonn Farrell via

'Dealing with M50 traffic before your day has even started will test the mettle of any hardened citizen'

Therapists would do well to open pop-up sessions on the hard shoulder, writes Áine Carroll.

THE M50 IS regularly, jokingly, referred to as Ireland’s largest car park – I suppose if you didn’t laugh you’d cry.

Yesterday morning, as I travelled home from a night shift towards my home in North County Dublin, I said a silent prayer of gratitude to the traffic fairies that on this occasion I was travelling in the opposite direction to the chaos, heartbreak and lost promise of the morning.

As I made fantastic northbound progress, my heart wept for the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of individual motorists and passengers on the opposite side of the road who were processing, in the best way they knew how, the cascade of emotion that naturally befalls a person who has diligently left the house early only to find themselves moments later standing completely still.

Dealing with the raw emotion of M50 traffic before your day has even started will test the mettle of any hardened citizen of the world.

I spared a thought for all of those who had conscientiously gone to bed early the night before, set their smart alarms, and dragged themselves from warm bed to freezing car, and even sacrificed their morning coffee from the local garage in order to maintain that New Year resolution where they had promised to stop prioritising coffee over punctuality. Facing the boss holding a steaming fresh barista coffee while trying to explain why you are twenty minutes late can be the trigger needed to reboot ones morning routine.

How many motorists, having started their own day so positively, quickly found themselves tensely gripping the wheel, repeating soft platitudes to themselves such as: ‘It can’t be that bad,’ or, ‘it’ll be grand once I get past Finglas’.

Distraction techniques include switching radio stations – but this comes with its own risks. If you found yourself on an outer regional road yesterday morning, wondering why you weren’t moving either, your radio would have told you that due to an incident southbound on the M50, the whole of bloody Leinster was at a standstill. The knowledge that this was not a problem that was going to be fixed easily would have quickly ratcheted up the tension.

You pray no one is injured but still can’t quite get your head around just how angry you are at the regular dysfunctional of this road that we still have the pleasure of paying to cross. Hope turns to anxiety and then to fear, and when things still don’t improve, sweat can start to gather on brows and under boobies. Therapists would do well to open pop-up sessions on the hard shoulder to help people deal with why they aren’t dealing with this situation so well.

Screaming, crying and nonsensical babbling about the government’s role in this mess are common features of single occupancy vehicles on mornings like we had yesterday. A whole spectrum of urges are resisted, including the urge to just fecking accelerate over them all, or to search for online companies that will deliver a vial of arsenic by drone.

Still miles from work, the time you are due to start creeps ever closer. This is a good time to call your boss and tell him to stick on the radio to backup your story that this time, it really wasn’t your fault. This can also be a transformative moment, one in which you begin to appreciate the small things, such as that you still have power on your phone to go on Twitter and directly tweet the Minister for Transport to complain about the state of traffic in Dublin lately.

It can also precipitate a moment of pure genius, when you realise that now, having rang the boss, you could probably chance stopping off for that coffee.

Áine is a full time mammy and a part time social care worker. She has a Masters degree in Equality Studies from UCD and regularly writes for newspapers and online platforms in a freelance capacity. You can read her tweets from @ainecarroll127

Read: Eamon Ryan on flood walls: ‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat’>

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