If You're Late, Irate and Tied Up on the Interstate, Mable Yee's Commuter Products May Help in a Jam

updated 09/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Trapped in the usual traffic snarl on Interstate 880 near San Jose, Calif., one day about 18 months ago, Mabel Yee was doing a slow burn. "I'm in this little BMW stuck in first gear, and my left leg is growing longer than my right," remembers Yee, now 38. "I looked around at all these drivers and thought, 'This is stupid. There must be something we could be doing other than cursing this traffic' "

Sufficiently revved up, Yee quit her sales and marketing job in Silicon Valley a month later and launched a mail-order firm called Commuter Products Corporation in Emeryville, Calif. Yee, who estimates California commuters log at least 30 hours a month on the freeways, offers pricey and ordinary items to make those stalled hours seem less frustrating for dog-tired hounds of the hardtop. For
$79.95, there's a massaging backrest complete with heater. To soothe tired pupils, you can don a pair of high-tech ski goggles (at $29.95) that are supposed to relieve eyestrain by massaging seven pressure points. (Because you can't see through them, the goggles are intended for postdriving relaxation.) Audiophiles can tune out the rush-hour din by tuning in to the stereo headrest for $69.95. There is an apron dubbed the Road Hog ($14.95) and an assortment of audio cassettes on investing in real estate or for learning a foreign language. For the fitness-crazed commuter, Yee suggests Auto-Calisthenics very low-impact exercises you can do behind the wheel. To avoid a pileup, Yee passes along some practical advice: "Only do it while you aren't driving."

Yee insists she tests every product in her Love to Commute catalog on her twice-monthly visits to her boyfriend, who lives 387 miles away in Los Angeles. The veteran road warrior even brings along her "commuter cat," Nori. Down the road, the driven entrepreneur sees microwave ovens, hair dryers and electric blankets for the car.

Yee enthusiastically reports that her products are moving briskly, and orders for her state-of-the-freeway items arc coming in from everywhere Los Angeles, Little Rock, Ark., and even as far away as Cali, Colombia. (For a free catalog, call 415-420-6666.) "Commuting is an international issue," says Yee. "There will always be a market for our products. Every minute a new commuter is born."

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