It turns out that New Yorkers are just as obsessed with commute times as Londoners. Like Caroline from A Cup of Jo, the first three questions I’m normally asked (or asking!) at a party are ‘where do you work’, ‘where do you live’ and ‘what’s the commute like?’.
How long is your commute?
My commute is an hour each way on a good day. I guess that’s quite a long commute, but that’s London for you. It’s often quicker to travel from the suburbs into the city than it is to travel from one side of London to the other.
I have my commute down to a fine art. I know which chipped sign to stand next to in the morning so I can squeeze on the first of my two trains. When it comes to getting on the second train, I always wait for it to arrive at the other end of the platform so I can secure a speedy exit at the station closest to the office.
I know that there’s a faster route to work that would shave four minutes off my commute time, but I rarely take it. A seat trumps being squeezed in like a sardine any day, at least when there’s only four minutes in it.
An extra working week for every month
I recently calculated that for every four weeks of work I spend another working week travelling to and fro. That’s a cool 40 hours a month ‘wasted’ on a train.
Except I don’t think having a seat on a train is wasted time. It’s only wasted time if you’re not enjoying it. Since doing the sums I’ve tried to up my travel game, finding new ways to make the most of my time. My journey is mostly spent underground so a lack of Wi-Fi (and a broken iPod) has pushed me to think beyond the obvious.
At some point I’d love to use that time to learn a foreign language. At the moment though I use it to read short stories, listen to podcasts and catch up on long reads. Sometimes (like today) I manage to write a blog post too.
The best commutes though are the ones where I lose myself in stories. I’ve loved listening to Serial and reading articles published in the New Yorker, like Filter Fish by Oliver Sacks.
I’m just trying to make those 40 hours a month count.
I’d love to know more about your commute. Do you walk to work? Perhaps you travel by boat (like Alex when the tubes are down)? Do you feel like it’s wasted time or do you have a clever way to make the most of it?