For the last several years, I enjoyed a fairly easy commute to work each day. A straight 14 mile shot up the expressway and only a few blocks on city streets at each end, the trip usually took about 20 minutes, 30 on a bad day. Then, last fall my company announced a consolidation of offices and a few months later I found myself driving 50 miles in traffic each way to work.
I hate the drive. It takes anywhere from 50 minutes to 2 hours. There is always traffic, construction, insane drivers, and people sitting in the driver’s seat who appear to be doing everything except actually driving. Not to mention the disruption to my family life. There are days that I feel like I barely see my kids because I leave the house before anyone else is out of bed. Evenings seem to be a mad rush consisting of dinner, sports, music lessons, and then getting everyone to bed so that I can go to bed early enough to not be a zombie at 5:30 am. One of my challenges is leaving at just the right time to pick up my kids and get them to a scheduled activity like piano lessons. We may end up being 15 minutes early or 15 minutes late depending on how long it takes me to get to their daycare.
The image at the top of this article is an actual screen capture from Google Maps taken recently about the time I wanted to head home from work. The image doesn’t even cover my entire commute. Needless to say it took me a while to get home that day. Instead, I wish my commute looked more like this drawing my oldest did when he was 10. The irony is that I’m pretty sure he drew this in the car on one of our long trips to visit family.
Putting 500-plus miles a week on my car I now find I have at least 10 hours a week behind the wheel that I’ve been trying to make the best of, rather than just listening to music. Here I would like to offer up some tips on how I’ve been surviving my commute. I try to take advantage of the technology available since I have a relatively new car with things like USB inputs, Bluetooth, etc. as well as a smartphone. I could live without most of the gadgetry on the car, but I have to have my smartphone.
First, a few things to have on hand that make life easier:
Next, suggestions on what to listen to:
All of these things help me maintain my sanity most of the time, but the biggest piece of advice I could give to anyone would be to just try remaining calm behind the wheel and always pay attention to the road. I’m not always good at staying calm but I’m getting better and the things above help me to feel like I’m at least making all that time in the car somewhat productive. I also make a point to not let these things be a distraction. If I find myself getting lost in an audio book or podcast, I just pause it for a few minutes. Hopefully, someone else can make some use of these suggestions to make their drive more bearable. Let’s all work to cut down on the road rage. Read some articles from the American Safety Council about road rage and defensive driving at SafeMotorist.com.
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Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2020
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