Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Time That Could Be Better Spent

I hate commuting. Twice in my life have I had short commutes of less than half an hour. The majority of my commutes have usually averaged about an hour but I've had some longer. I had one that took about 90 minutes one way and even one that took two hours - that one was rough. I've been in this job for two and a half years and it's always taken me about an hour to get to work. I moved into a new house in August. It was 10 minutes farther from were I had been living. I get up and leave about 20 minutes earlier than I did. It now takes me close to 90 minutes to get to work. WTF? It's made worse by the fact that those other long commutes were largely solid driving - at or above the speed limit. Sixty minutes usually meant about sixty miles. This hour and a half drive is one I can do in about 45 minutes with nothing on the road. The last 20 miles takes close to an hour. Mix in an accident, rain, snow, sleet, fog, or even bright sun - well, fugidaboutit. I actually don't mind having a bit of a commute as it allows me a transition between home and work and in the evening it gives me some time to decompress before I get home. I guess it's the sitting in traffic feeling like I'm wasting my time that I hate.

I've tried to make the time alone in my car pass more quickly and be somewhat productive. Music, radio, books on tape, dictating writing projects into a voice recorder, I even learned to speak and understand a little Irish. But time alone in my car is time alone in my car and sooner or later I end up inside my head. Up to a point that's a good thing because I believe we all need some time every day spent in quiet contemplation. Beyond that point well, let's just say if you stay too long you might find a door that should remain closed and you risk wandering into the scary place.

While I was clattering around in the old cabesa today I was thinking about time, something we all have an unknown and finite amount of. I did some quick, back of the cocktail napkin calculations. With a three hour round trip commute that's 15 hours per week. Roughly 60 hours per month. 720 hours per year (excluding vacations). In a car. For arguments sake let's say I get up at 6AM and go to bed about 11PM. That's 17 hours awake (we won't count time sleeping). I work a 9 hour day plus 3 for the commute, that's 12. I don't really see my wife and kids in the morning while I'm getting ready so we'll throw in another hour there. That's 13 of the seventeen hours per day that I'm awake spent either at work or in the car, leaving 4 for the family. 65 hours per week versus the 20 hours with my family. Adding in the precious hours of the weekend (adjusting for sleeping in, etc.) brings it up to 48 hours at home. That inequity really bothers me because I am not nor will I ever be the kind of person who, on their deathbed, wishes they had spent more time at work. Is it any wonder the weekends are so important to me, or to any of us? Choosing to invest time for a purpose is one thing. I have to work to support the people I love. Having to invest some time to get to that place of work is a given. But goddamn do I resent feeling like time is being stolen from me especially when, as I said in the title, it could most certainly be better spent.

Thanks for listening. Sorry for the rant but hey, that's what you get when I spend too much time in the car. And in my head.

A side note. I'm probably going to be scarce for the next few days. I won't be sitting in traffic. I'll be home. With my family (including my oldest who's coming home from college for the weekend. Yea!!!!!). I'll be putting the finishing touches on the Halloween props and decorations for our party on Saturday. I'll try to check in and I'll definitely post pictures when I'm finished.


moooooog35 said...

I've had three THREE HOUR commutes to work. TO work. It's like adding insult to injury.

One of those was during an ice-storm, I was crawling along at 0-1 mph...while the sides of the highway were littered with cars. The best thing was that the people driving the cars were out of them, sitting on their hoods, waving to those brave enough to try continuing on. It was like being in my own parade.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Ouch. You win. And yeah, with the weather all bets are off. When you finally make it you can't pry your fingers off the wheel.

Tequila Mockingbird said...

a few suggestions. bring a full flask for the drive home, it makes it better. or go to happy hour when you get out of work for an hour and a half. by the time you are done, you are way more relaxed, and all you've waited out the rush.

Anonymous said...

See this is why all cars should be outfitted with a personal computer.

You could blog during the rush and have more time to spend with the family when you get home.

Why do they call it rush hour anyways when all you do is sit there and wait?

Commutes suck donkey dong! Maybe you should consider an online job. :o)

Bruce, a work in progress said...

TM, considering that the coffee hasn't kicked in and I'm more or less comatose for the morning ride, I doubt an alcohol induced state would help in the PM.

Prepon, I just want the friggin' flying car that I was promised as a kid in the sixties.

Colonel Colonel said...

I used to do a commute that involved Boston's Southeast Expresway, the "parking lot in the sky", so I can feel your pain. Today I commute from the bedroom downstairs to my office, and just have to watch out for cat pile-ups in the hallway. Would not want to go back.

Have a great mini-vacation, and send those pictures!

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Thanks Col. I'm gonna be really busy but it's going to be doing something I enjoy so I guess it will be somewhat of a vacation. I'll definitely post pictures.

Mike said...

I commute from the bed to my chair every morning. It takes about 5 minutes (including time spent peeing, letting the dog out to pee, and getting a cup of coffee which will make me pee again in about 10 minutes).

It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Parad0x said...

I have a five minute commute right now but am about to move to a job whose commute is at LEAST thirty, more likely sixy, minutes.

I hate this idea. I believe I will soon feel (a portion of) your pain.

Much love fellow road warrior!