Day 13: your commute to and from work
I don’t like my commute.
My commute when I lived in NYC was time-consuming, but it was all by public transportation which allowed me time to do other things: grade papers, mark musical scores, knit Christmas presents, or read the latest books on my list (lots of Harry Potter). I was able to mentally prepare for my work on the way there and decompress from my long day on the way home. Sometimes the bus or train was crowded with other cranky commuters, but I was always on long enough to get a seat for at least part of my trip. I sometimes enjoyed my commute in those days. It was not perfect, but it certainly had it’s good points.
These days, my commute is exclusively by car. On the highway. In northeast Ohio.
Keep in mind, I didn’t learn to drive until I was about 24, and I didn’t get a license until I was 34 and pregnant — with baby number 2. If I’m taking a road trip, I don’t mind driving. I particularly love to drive alone with all the windows down and the top open, and with the music turned up loud!
My daily commute is not quite so enjoyable, however. It usually begins with my dropping my kids at school before I head over the highway. I have a ritual that I try to follow daily: I say my prayers beginning right after I drop my daughter, and then I turn on music for my trip. My current soundtrack is Billy Joel. The traffic isn’t heavy where I get on the highway, but it gradually increases as I go along. I don’t exactly drive the speed limit, but I inevitably get passed like I’m standing still or tailgated for miles until I move to the right. It amazes me that folks around here think that New York drivers are reckless. There are far worse drivers here than in NYC. I swear I take my life in my own hands every time I get behind the wheel of a car around here.
What I hate the most about my commute is that all I can do is drive, and maybe listen to music. I certainly can’t knit while I drive! Sometimes traffic is so bad, I have to turn the music off so I won’t be distracted. I’m stressed out when I arrive at work and there’s no possibility of my relaxing on the way home.
I know most folks around here learn to drive and have a license by age 16. I know that families often own multiple cars. Automobile travel is pretty much the only way to get around. Public transportation in this area is not fabulous. Car culture is king.
I hate it. I really do.
I’ve been a commuter in some way or another for over 40 years. I’m pretty tired of it, actually. I’d be over the moon if I could walk to work. Maybe someday.