I drive about an hour round trip for my daily commute to work and back home. I love my job, but I dislike commuting. Especially via car.
My worst commute ever was during the year 2005.
I was living in Staten Island with my mom and commuting into Manhattan for my job as a development associate with a non-profit on the Lower East Side. Every work day, I drove (or walked) to the train station. I rode the train down to the Staten Island Ferry, and then took the Ferry to Manhattan. Once in Manhattan, I took a bus to the Lower East Side and then walked for about ten minutes to get to my office. The entire commute, door to door, took about two hours – each way.
It made me so sick when I would think about it – that was minimum TWENTY HOURS A WEEK spent commuting! Insane.
Now, while I would never want to go back to that commute, I do miss living in New York and being able to commute via public transportation. That way, I could read a book or write in my journal. With my current job, my only option is commuting via car, and the daily commute (especially the way home – more traffic on the road and more crankiness from me) is getting really draining.
I’d really like my commute to be less draining and more restorative. When I think about it positively, I can think of a lot of good things about commuting.
- It’s a built-in transition time from work to home – a time to transition from being on-the-clock to off-duty.
- Sometimes I borrow a hard copy and an audiobook version of a good book from the library. That way, I don’t have to wait until I get home to find out who the killer is in the latest Cormoran Strike novel.
- No one is bothering me during my commute. Nobody wants anything from me, except for me to drive safely
- I am lucky enough to not have a significant share of road rage. Every once in a while, another driver will bother me, but my annoyance is usually minor and passes quickly. I can’t even imagine how horrible the commute would be if I had road rage or highway anxiety rather than just my general dislike of driving.
However, even when considering the bright side of commuting, I stall out sometimes and I get super-cranky. “I’ve listened to all the good podcasts,” I whine to Tee. (She then rapidly recommends seven more for me to listen to.)
I’ve been really trying to make an effort to make my commute less draining, less exhausting, less cumbersome. The Hamilton soundtrack is the best thing that’s happened to my commute all year. My sister, as well as several friends, urged me to listen to it a few months ago. I finally borrowed it from the library in November and got HOOKED. I came home one day to Tee and announced that I’d learned Angelica’s rap from “Satisfied.” She listened to me perform with the patience and love of a wife who thinks her wife has lost her grip on reality.
I’ve been looking around online for blog posts and articles with tips about how to make my commute better, and I’ve found a few ideas.
- Make phone calls. I used to do this all the time – my commute was my time to call friends who live in faraway cities.
- Be active during the day.
- Bring a comfy change of clothes to wear for your ride home. I love this idea. I change into sweats or pajama pants immediately when I get home from work – how awesome would it be to change into them before my ride home?
- Seek out recommendations for musicals, podcasts, and audiobooks. I don’t usually seek these out – I’m going to try to do a better job of seeking out My Reliable Recommenders (see future post) to get ideas for light and easy listening for my ride home.
- Use aromatherapy. Embracing good smells is really fun and a good mindfulness reminder for me. I keep a few essential oils on my desk at work, but I usually get busy and forget to use them – maybe I can start keeping one in the car for a pick-me-up.
- Learn something new. A couple of years ago, I started working part-time with a Spanish-speaking population. I borrowed some Spanish CDs from the library so that I could brush up, since I haven’t spoken Spanish regularly for years. It was super-fun and engaging, and it was the perfect time to do it – I could practice my diction and it saved me from having go home and study out of a book during my leisure time.
Okay, fine. I’ll try all these things. And I’ll continue to daydream about having a therapeutic recreation center on our farm someday so that my commute can consist of rolling down a hill wearing muddy boots and a smile.