Driving during a pandemic

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Highway traffic has decreased significantly during COVID lockdown. Photo by Gabe Pierce via Unsplash.

When lockdown orders started taking effect nationwide earlier this year, I was in a panic. Activities like concerts and going to the movies were off limits and going to the grocery store was a nightmare. Since I hate being a homebody, I figured driving would keep my mind off of the pandemic. Little did I know that I was in for a ride.  

Before COVID-19, it was rare that I would use a drive-thru as my main source of food. Once lockdown began, however, grocery stores became swamped.Rather than waiting in line for groceries, I swung by drive-thrus to fill the food void. The best fast food experiences I had during the pandemic were when I would go with my friends to Taco Bell, where they offered a free Doritos Locos taco every Tuesday during the month of April.If you thought grocery store lines were bad, the lines at Taco Bell’s drive-thrus would have made you faint.  

Aside from Taco Bell, driving on the highways felt apocalyptic. The once-packed Interstate 95 became desolate once lockdown began;the only vehicles on the roads were 18-wheelers and ambulances. It was difficult to adjust to driving on an empty highway, but after a couple of weeks, I began to feel more comfortable. I now feel safe changing lanes, whereas before COVID-19 , the maneuver terrified me.  

The best part of my driving experience during the pandemic happened one night in May. My friends and I were driving to Port Chester, N.Y., and one of them suggested we drive all the way to New York City. I was hesitant at first, but after some thought, I decided to drive to the city in the middle of the night.  

Going down Interstate 278 after dark is like taking the boat ride from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” It was cramped, scary and nerve-racking. Every turn made me feel like I was going to swerve off the road and the lack of street lamps made driving a nightmare. Even after getting into the city, my friends and I continued to feel nervous. The drivers around us on the highway were loud and aggressive, which didn’t add much to what was supposed to have been a fun night. The best part of the experience was when the GPS took us to Brooklyn and we didn’t know what to do.  

At that point, we knew it was time to head back home. After we crawled our way out of the city and back onto Interstate 278, we blasted songs through the speakers and drove at a speed that represented a hot summer day. Once we pulled over to rest at a parking lot at a local beach, we realized we had just driven the craziest route of our lives.  

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