Thursday, March 13, 2014

Drive to Succeed

Not an easy commute on this day.
But it's fun to say "jackknifed semi."
For most of my career, my ride to work has been short. This is what you get when you live in a major metro area with a variety of industries -- you can usually find a job close to home. My former job was 5 to 15 minutes from home (I will explain the 15 minutes momentarily).

On most days, my brain had barely registered the new day and sent electrical pulses to all my extremities before I was in my workplace parking lot. I had time for about one NPR story or two songs. When it was cold and snowy, I spent more time cleaning off my car than I did driving it and the heat would just be reaching out of the vents before I had to shut off the car and cross the parking lot.

Unless, of course, there was a train. I live in a town that is well-serviced by a commuter rail line that shares tracks with a freight line. My last job was, shall we say, on the wrong side of the tracks and I often had to wait for a people train and a things train before I could get to work. Most frustrating: watching a full coal train go one way and and empty coal train going the other way. On those days, I truly believed we had not evolved much beyond the early industrial age.

Still, I had a short commute. Now, I have a longer one. Google Maps puts my current commute at 25 miles and 35 minutes. But due to a confluence of expressways that jam up as easily as an old bathtub drain, my morning drive is usually about 45 minutes.

There was a time when I would have dreaded this kind of drive. Perhaps it's the anxiety meds (SSRIs FTW!) but I generally enjoy my commute. Here are some reasons:

1) I mostly take expressways. Stoplights make me grumpy, so I purposely take the route with the fewest of them. Yes, I pay tolls. But you do this for a better driving experience, right (Chicago-area residents can pause to laugh now)?

2) Between broadcast radio and my phone, I can listen to anything I want. NPR (except when they do stories on college rape statistics or Mongolian goat farmers losing their land to global warming), liberal talk radio, Steve Dahl podcasts, Vampire Weekend.

3) I find that I am developing special relationships with the hundreds of billboards that line my main route. Giordano's Pizza used to have some ads featuring the Bulls' Derrick Rose's darling smile. There was a pop-eyed bro who illustrated an ad to get your basement seepage problem fixed: "Basement leaking got you freaking?" I was really bummed when that went away. There are a few that I hate. I have to avert my eyes from the bladder control fix ad that scolds "Diapers are for babies, not for ladies" and features actual panties blowing in the wind.

4) I get to drive by O'Hare Airport twice each day. Sometimes the planes come in so low that you believe their bottoms are scraping your car roof. Once in awhile, the airline is unfamiliar so you have to guess where it's from. And some of the cargo planes are freaking huge. It's way more fun to watch planes than to fly on them.

5) I love my job, so the ride is not even an issue. I love where I work, who I work with, and what I do. In fact, I think this is the best job I have ever had. Strange that I had to drive to get there. Sometimes, you need to reach just a little farther.

A sweet day at work. 

6 comments:

Unknown said...

It's like you were reading my mind!
Cris

Unknown said...

It's like you were reading my mind!
Cris

Marc said...

You're right on the cusp of good commute versus bad. Once it gets to an hour or more it becomes a bit too much. (Yes, I'm talking about Old Orchard.)

Marc said...

You're right on the cusp of good commute versus bad. Once it gets to an hour or more it becomes a bit too much. (Yes, I'm talking about Old Orchard.)

Dawn K. said...

Great post! My favorite part - "a people train and a things train." Sometimes the key to writing genius is NOT to reach too far!

Kathleen Schwitzner said...

Watching a jet taxi over 294 is the coolest thing ever.

I did the 294 Ogden to River Road commute for many moons, and then up and down 25th Avenue. I loved my hour commute. It was my unwind time.

Now I have a 10-15 minute commute and while I love getting home timely, I get why when Ted went to go work at U of I, he was happy to have the hour commute back. I got him XM radio for his car.