The Happy Friday Series: Creating Optimism in Traffic on Foursquare

Screen Shot 2013-02-01 at 8.45.23 AMIt is my great pleasure to welcome Paula Kiger, a author and blogger @BigGreenPen to today’s The Happy Friday Series. This story shows how you can create good vibes no matter where you’re stuck on life’s journey. 

Paula Kiger  Says:

Once I began using Foursquare, I quickly became intrigued by the check-ins that do more than identify a location. For example, the intersection of Capital Circle Northeast and Centerville Road here in Tallahassee could just be “Capital Circle NE and Centerville Road” but it has been dubbed “The Punishment Light.” I don’t know who created this name, but the wait for the light to turn at this intersection can be punishing, especially for drivers who are running late for work.

I am also a frequent visitor (and checker-inner) at “The Longest Light in Tally” (the intersection of Capital Circle and Apalachee Parkway). I view this check-in as a little “we’re all in this together” nod of commiseration to my fellow Tallahassee drivers who endure interminably lengthy waits at this intersection.

Because of my route to work, the Capital Circle intersection I can guarantee being at daily is the intersection of Capital Circle and Mahan Drive. The light is not quite as long as the two mentioned above, but it’s a major intersection that typically found me fretting about how late I was to work, how I was going to get everything done that I had committed to, how I was goinScreen Shot 2013-02-01 at 8.22.12 AMg to overcome the problems big and small in my life. It was yet another place to give in to worry and anxiety.

This image is a still shot from Traffic Camera Number 013

Which is why, on my birthday on November 28, I pulled over at a business at that intersection and created my own check-in: The Optimism Light. It is an alternative to the “Capital Circle NE and Mahan Dr.” check-in. It was a gift to myself. Having given myself that gift, it fascinates me how having one small symbolic homage to the positive makes a difference. If I am stopped at a red light there, I check in and take a deep breath. And then I:

  • Say a brief prayer of gratitude for the indisputably precious gift of another day
  • Send a positive intention for a friend or someone I know of who is ill or troubled
  • Give the person in front of me, beside me, or behind me the vibe that “it’s okay – we’ll all get where we’re going” instead of “what’s taking you so long to MOVE?!”
  • Hope that hope will prevail in the face of the world’s darknesses

Paula-Kiger-on-FoursquareI would be lying if I wrote, “and if no one else ever checked in here, that would be fine – I created this for myself.” Honestly, I want others to check in there (and I appreciate those FourSquare users who have). It’s why I tweet and post to Facebook every time I check in there.

When I find quotes that apply to this check-in, I add them as “tips.” They’re brief enough to take in while waiting for the light to turn:

Screen Shot 2013-02-01 at 8.22.50 AM


Around 50,000 cars pass through this intersection every day. You could argue that taking two seconds to give your fellow driver a break or say a quick prayer/intention (whatever your faith tradition) for someone else is not even a drop in the bucket. But, in my opinion, 50,000+ drops could create some waves of tranquility.

And in a world where it’s all too easy to make waves with sarcasm and vitriol, waves of optimism surely couldn’t hurt any of us.




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(Jayme Note: The Happy Friday series seeks new guest authors. What makes you happy? Please share with me, and you can be my featured guest!)