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The Indefinite Article.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


This is a great essay from the New Yorker about commuting. Having grown up in a family that suffered and benefited from long commutes I find essays on this topic and my reactions to them fascinating. It is my great fear that I will someday slip into a lifestyle that trades too much time away.

This is my hell:

The trip took eighty minutes, with no accidents or extenuating circumstances—just enough time to engender the feeling that we deserved a nap or a big greasy breakfast. He parked his car outside his office: a one-story industrial building overlooking the interstate. He had worked downtown previously and so had come into contact with other people—in the foyer, at lunch, on the way to the garage. “That’s what makes this so damn boring,” he said. “I wouldn’t have moved if I could’ve taken public transportation. I could read a book or talk to somebody.” He slipped in through a side door and into his office; it was a little like going into a motel. There was no one around to greet him or to make small talk.

But what is hellish about this scenario is not just the eighty minute commute, but also the isolation that the fellow finds at work. Ironically, perhaps, I have encountered such dismal isolation when I have spent extended periods of time "working from home."


  • The hellish commute is a state of mind. I've realized this because I live an hour and a half from the city, and in the busy season I drive in 4 days a week. In the off season, I only go in once every two weeks... Sometimes, when there is an accident it can take as long as 3 hours to get to the city, and one time there were 2 accidents and it actually took me 4 hours to get there!!

    But while other people are honking and yelling and showing all the signs of advanced road rage, I am in my car travelling the world, meeting interesting characters, and discovering new facts.

    I listen to books on tape, and I've joined a club, www.simplyaudiobooks.com, where I get 4 selections at a time for a flat monthly fee.

    I don't have time to read books, but I listen to 3 or 4 books a week, and I wouldn't trade that time for anything...

    Because I feel like I have the best of both worlds -- a beautiful home in the mountains for my son to grow up in, a very exciting job in the city that is creatively satisfying, and my beloved books on tape.

    By Blogger Amber Freda's, at 4:55 AM  

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