I have not always been able to say “I love my commute.” For many years, it was a thoroughly hideous experience taking well over two hours each day and taking me through a major city each way. What a pain. Getting home on Fridays sometimes took as long as two hours. After ten years at that job, I ran the numbers and figured that for every 40 hours I worked, I was spending an additional 10-12 hours a week commuting. It was costing me five weeks of my life to work four every month and it grew old. IN those ten years I had commuted for time equal to about two additional years. That’s a lot of time and a lot of my life, I thought. Finally, I changed jobs.
I still have a commute, but have grown to love it. I drive away from the City and home when all the traffic (or most of it) is going in the opposite direction. It is only a bit shorter in miles than the old one, but a lot more pleasant. I cross water, see birds, rarely get ensnared in traffic tie-ups and because I leave home quite early in the morning, I often see the sun coming up as I drive in to the office. This is kind of nice. But I haven’t gotten to the best part yet.
The best part is that in the very early morning, the only people on the road with me are the ones I have come to think of as ‘professional’ commute drivers. They drive like I do – a bit faster than really necessary, but generally safely and with courtesy. The roads are less crowded and I feel that those of us who are sharing it at that hour (I generally leave home between 6:00 and 6:15AM) are an odd and inadvertent fellowship of sorts. I really notice the difference when I go in later in the day. At later hours or on the weekends the ‘casual’ drivers, shoppers and other non-members of my imagined fraternity are out there clogging up the roads, driving at truly poky speeds, changing lanes without signaling and being both rude and careless in their driving.
I enjoy driving alone. I have not always done so and if I had colleagues living close by who shared similar schedules, I would probably be carpooling – at least some of the time. As it is, I use the time to think, to listen to books on CD or just to relax. Sometimes I do some dictation with a small recorder I keep in the car and sometimes I call family members from my cell phone who live in time zones where the sun has been up for a few hours already. For this last activity, I use a hands free headset, of course. By the time I get to the office, I have often gotten a few things done already and, by-in-large have enjoyed the process of having some time alone to listen, learn, communicate privately or think. I don’t know what the other professional commuters are doing in their own cars – and I don’t really care so long as it does not interfere with my ability to enjoy my ride.
As a final thought: I also admit to liking my car. I read, recently, that large numbers of people surveyed are more satisfied with their car than they are with anything else – including their primary (human) relationship. I wouldn’t go that far, but I am at ease with myself in the cockpit of the car that has gotten me around for the past 100+ miles.
If you enjoy commuting, don’t be afraid to say so – even at the expense of being very un-PC.