As the bumper sticker says:
”You are not stuck in traffic – you are traffic”
There is no greater leveller than a traffic jam. We all want to get somewhere just as much as everyone else. And so we sit, like schmucks in big metal boxes. Idling. The big people in the BMW’s sit for just as long as the little people in the Mazda Hatchbacks.
If you’re in a traffic jam – the joke is on you. (and if you drive to work in Auckland then you will spend a considerable amount of time being the butt of this particular joke).
Many studies have shown that the most pointless, soul destroying moments in any given day are spent commuting. I don’t need studies to tell me this is true. Never have I felt more impotent, frustrated, bored and despairing than when I am stuck looking at the back of another car. I can get as enraged as I like, but deep down, I know I am the one using a big messy car to cart my sorry ass from one place to another.
Okay, enough of the self flagellation. Let me grab you by the lapels and shake gently while saying – ‘buddy – it doesn’t have to be this way!’ You can claw back a real chunk of concrete and measurable freedom by considering the following:
- Carpool with a neighbour. You can speculate on street gossip, share domestic updates, cruise down the transit lanes, and halve your petrol bill. All you have to do is discover who else shares your route
- Work from home for one day (or more) a week. Your boss should be open to this now that we don’t live in the industrial age and working adults do not require supervision. Commuting hours can now be spent on productive work! The thrill of extra autonomy will increase your creativity and value. Skype and Zoom video conferencing is so seamless now you can still make it to all your meetings. (hooray?)
- Bus, Ferry, Train, Helicopter… Explore the options. There might be a bus stop right under your nose that gets you 80% of the way there. On public transport you can read a book, people watch, look out the window. Plot, plan, daydream, sneer at cars etc….
- Bike. There are bike trail maps online. Use them or lose them! Your challenge is to find the best way to get to work. Fine tune and hack your journey! You’ll feel revved and victorious as you saunter into the office with a brain circuits firing from increased blood supply and oxygen. A small army of cyclists can push for more extensive and safer cycle lanes and bike routes. Or we can just all surrender into a passive haze of exhaust fumes and congestion. Cars run on money and make you fat. Bikes run on fat and save you money. Which side would you rather be on ?
- Move closer to work. Travel costs can be significant, especially when they are compounded over 5 days a week, most weeks per year. Maybe a bijoux flat near the CBD is cheaper and more fun to live in than a suburban house further out. Wrangle a house swap, make a part time arrangement during the week, get online and look for opportunities. Don’t ask and you won’t get.
- Work funny hours. If you’re a morning bird then make the most of your optimum hours and plan to arrive at work by 6:30am. Or start much later and sail home long after the rush hour schmucks have done their time in the queue.
If you have a life sucking commute or a boss that isn’t compatible with the options above – Perhaps it’s time to look for a new job…..