Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Confessions of a Commuter

I grew up in Southern Maryland.  My county flag sports a picture of a tobacco leaf.  The closest store was a small, family owned grocery store with a fake cow on top of it.  My friend's all lived 10 to 20 minutes away and school was never in walking distance.  I "joke" now (it's not a joke, it's really accurate) that it takes me an hour to get anywhere worth going from my house.

My mom has always commuted to work, driving an hour or more one way to work in various parts of DC, Maryland, or Virginia.  I spent several summers working for the Air Force and made that drive with her, but I slept or read Harry Potter while she drove, because I'm an insensitive, ungrateful daughter. After that (and spending several years in Utah where if it isn't within ten minutes from your house, it isn't worth going to), I decided commuting to work was not for me.  I used to get so angry because I just wanted to be home or go out with friends or, you know, eat dinner and use the bathroom.  I don't envy other's hours long commutes. I'm incredibly grateful and lucky to have a job located ten minutes from my house, even though it means my lunch choices are McDonald's, Burger King, or a grocery store salad bar.

Here's the kicker.  I don't have to drive to work, but I have to drive to have a social life.  My friends all live an hour away.  Church is 45 minutes away.  Everyone else lives close to each other, so it only makes sense that I make the drive.  This means commuting.  Sitting in the car, BY MYSELF, for hours.  I'm just not entertaining enough for me.  I blast music or listen to audio books or podcasts, but then I get really tired of hearing things.  Eventually, it all just sounds like noise, no matter how much you want to listen to it, because you are literally strapped into a moving vehicle that also makes it's own noise (although my Prius is a really quiet ride) surrounded by lots of other very loud vehicles.  It's overwhelming from time to time.  Sometimes I call a friend and chat for an hour or so (on speaker, all on the up and up, of course).  Sometimes I just ride in silence trying to just make it to where ever I am headed.  Sometimes I talk to myself. LIKE A CRAZY PERSON.  I know people can see me singing at the top of my lungs or talking (either to myself or on the speaker phone) or dancing or laughing like a loon at something on a podcast, but I tend to also forget that people can see me.  It's not ideal.

And, friends, I've seen things.  Other drivers seem to be even more oblivious than I am.  Otherwise, I wouldn't be seeing them pick their nose, reading a paper, putting on mascara, fighting with their passenger (I'm convinced it was a break-up, poor people), etc.  I wouldn't catch passengers staring directly at me when I check my blind spots.  I've seen feet propped up on the driver's side.  The driver.  I'm fairly certain you need your feet on the ground when you are driving a car.  I've watched, in horror, as a driver in 15 mph traffic, opened their door while still driving, and tossed his cookies all over the road.  Did I mention the while driving part? Because he was definitely still driving.

I'm sure everyone has such stories.  You do what you have to do when you are stuck on a highway.  Unfortunately, my situation isn't going to change anytime soon, so the driving will continue.  But maybe I'll try to stop talking to myself while I do it.

No comments: