As mentioned before in this series, my husband is a commuter. When we were both offered jobs the same week in towns an hour apart, we couldn’t pass up the opportunities before us. So, Luke said he was willing to drive, and we live in the town where my job is. I am extremely grateful he is willing to make this sacrifice. I like the comment one of my coworkers made when she learned about our arrangement: “That’s a real man.” Luke’s ten weekly hours on the road has become a chapter of our married life, and since the “Not-So-Newlywed” posts are usually from my perspective, I wanted to give Luke a chance to share some thoughts. I interviewed him on the way home from work one day that I had tagged along, and here are some of the little-known-facts of the road from the perspective of a commuter.
JB: Let’s start with something positive. What is the most enjoyable part of commuting?
LB: I would say it’s the drive home. I get to decompress from the day and sort out my thoughts. Having that hour before I get home allows me to be more involved at home when I get there instead of vegging out in front of the TV for an hour.
JB: So, what do you do to pass the time while you’re driving?
LB: I think a lot. I process what has happened at work and problem-solve customer issues I’ve seen during the day. I think about plans I have for that night and for the future and projects I want to work on.
JB: What’s the strangest thing you do while driving?
LB: Strange? Nothing. (But I can see a slight grin forming as he dodges the question.) I listen to books on tape. I’ve recently finished the whole Harry Potter series. I listen to the radio or my own music on my iPod. In the mornings, I have to listen to music, not books or talk radio, because I’m tired in the mornings, and I’m not a coffee drinker.
JB: So, let’s say you’ve had a really frustrating day at work. What kind of music will you listen to on the way home?
LB: Probably Evanescence or some kind of rock.
JB: What about after a great day?
LB: Oh, right now, I’m listening to some Maroon 5 and Train…some Frank Sinatra…(and after a puzzled look from me,) I know, I know.
JB: What is the best day for commuting?
LB: Saturday. There’s no one else on the road.
JB: Finish this statement. Regarding commuting, most people don’t realize…
LB: That 5-10 minutes make a huge difference. Leaving the house ten minutes later than normal, I see a lot more traffic.
JB: Speaking of leaving the house, what time do you wake up, and what time do you leave the house?
LB: I wake up at 4:30 and leave the house at 5:30. I would rather be really early and know that I’ll be on time than sleep longer and hit more traffic and be stressed.
JB: You mentioned stress. Talk to me about road rage—either yours or others.
LB: I never used to have road rage. Well, I don’t really have road rage. I prefer “road agitation”… at people who think they can do anything they want on the road—basic inconsideration—like driving 65 in the fast lane or someone driving 65 passing someone who is going 63. Driving in town is much more frustrating now. I yell a lot inside the car, but I avoid using the horn. If I make any hand gestures, they are below the dash so the other car can’t see.
JB: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen while driving?
LB: One day on the way to work, I saw a set of snake-like skid marks that went into the median guard posts and flattened them and then went back to the right side of the road, where a car was in the ditch on its side. The emergency vehicles had just arrived, but it looked like everyone was okay.
JB: I’m guessing people don’t always understand why you commute. What are some comments you get?
LB: Ok, here are the common ones. “Oh my gosh. Why are you doing that?” “I couldn’t do it.” “Are you ever going to move here?” “I think I’d hurt myself if I had to drive that far.” And finally, “WHY?!?”
JB: So, how do you respond to their comments?
LB: I just explain that I would rather drive than make my wife drive and that I love this job enough to drive for it.
JB: How does the commute affect your relationship with your wife (i.e., me)?
LB: It depends on the day. I’m a borderline workaholic, so knowing that I have to drive an hour home forces me to leave work. I could stay until close every night if I let myself. It also allows you (he means me J) to have alone time, which makes us both more ready to see each other at the end of the day.
JB: Do you have a favorite chunk of road?
LB: Actually, yes, and I’ve noticed this every day in the two years I’ve been driving. There is a spot, right after a section of really rough road and right after a couple of bridges, where the pavement suddenly becomes smooth. At that point, I’m about 17 minutes from home, and it’s just a feeling of knowing I’m almost home.
JB: Every day before you leave work, you call to let me know you’re on your way…and you ask what is for dinner. What’s your favorite response to that question?
LB: Ooh, there are so many. Pizza, some kind of soup—I love me some soup—any meal that’s heavy on the meat and light on the vegetables. Oh, and include this one—the little smokies meal (see recipe below).
We concluded the interview with some calculations and determined that in the last two years, Luke has made 455 round trips for a total of 65,000 miles. In terms of time, he has spent approximately 910 total hours on the road, which equates to about 38 days.
In response to the realization that he spends about 5% of his life driving, Luke concludes, —“Worth it! Since I love my job, it’s worth it. If I didn’t, I would not have lasted this long.”
Here’s the recipe as promised above. It sounds crazy, but trust us. Nothing smells more like home in the country than the combination of aromas from this meal.
- Packaged Little Smokies. Cook them in a saucepan smothered with Head Country barbeque sauce. Luke has asked me to be very specific that it has to be Head Country.
- Boxed mac ‘n cheese. Don’t get fancy. The $0.50 form is exactly what you’re looking for.
- Pre-packaged blueberry muffin mix, and cook as directed. I prefer the whole wheat kind, but that’s just because I thought my version should be slightly distinct from the classic as created by my mother-in-law.
I know, I know. There are no vegetables, but the whole thing takes less than 30 minutes, and those artificial blueberries in the mix have to count for something. Try it, and I promise you’ll fall in love!