When I was a little girl I dreamed about growing up and having a job. I would get up in the morning and put on my power suit, hop on a train and head to the office. At the end of the day I would pack up my briefcase, put on my very professional coat and head out for an evening of adult activities.
Now that I’m all grown up, I have a relatively important (in the sense that it pays the bills) job. I carry a laptop bag instead of a briefcase, and I own a very flattering black trench coat.
What I also have, which I never in a million years imagined, is a soul sucking commute.
What I didn’t know then was that city living was better suited for people who don’t have to consider things like child safe neighborhoods, public school systems and affordable mortgages. As a real life grown up with both a career and a family, I find myself firmly entrenched in the suburbs of Orlando.
And the suburbs are about 45 minutes from the office in rush hour traffic.
Unless, of course, there’s an accident. Or rain. Or a really slow tourist clogging up the works. Then it might take me 90 minutes to make the 20 mile trek.
Of all the things I love about working full time, the one thing that makes me question my decision on a regular basis is my daily commute.
I hate that I get off work at 5:00 and don’t walk in my front door until as late as 6:30 some nights. I hate that I spend three hours of my day, five days a week, sitting in my car. I dream about all the living I could do with those extra 15 hours a week. I resent that I give up those hours not for work, or myself, or time with my family - but for traffic.
My mother once told me that she valued her commute because it gave her a chance to “switch gears”, transforming from working woman to wife and mother over the course of her drive home. I have never found that to be the case for me. I spend the entire drive on edge as the minutes tick by, worried that I’ll be late to pick up the kids or be the last parent to arrive. I get tired and tense just thinking about the marathon that awaits once I hit the daycare starting line: pick up, get home, unpack, make dinner, eat dinner, do dishes, check homework, baths, story, bedtime, collapse.
I wonder if this is simply a necessary evil as long as I continue to work outside the home. Am I destined to surrender more than 10% of my day to something I hate? Is there something I’m missing that makes commuting tolerable?
How do you cope with the time suck that is the daily commute?