Hidden Perks

A quick google search on tips for commuters turned up a really interesting Lifehacker post, that claims the average US commute is 50 minutes. Having never commuted more than 30 minutes in my life (unless you count the “commute” from Waco to Houston and back each weekend), it’s been hard to get used to “losing” so much time during my day.

I’ve done a number of things to try to make my daily commutes into something less… well, hated. It’s been hard for me to get used to being a captive audience for two or two and a half hours every day. Fortunately I’m a relatively low stress driver – traffic doesn’t really freak me out, I don’t compulsively change lanes, and road rage just isn’t my thing.

(Though I’m not above making the occasional sarcastic remark…)

While I won’t call “adjusting my commute” a hidden perk, it’s nice to know that my work supports my working 6:30am to 4pm instead of forcing me to try to keep an 8-5. Being creative about my route helped too – while all the traffic map generators are going to tell me to stick to the highway, it’s no further mileage wise and a lot less traffic to take a state highway/smaller road (even hitting all the stoplights). Instead of the volatility of a highly congested, merge-heavy stretch of 5+ lane highway insanity, I’m on a road that’s 2 lanes each way, with very few people driving on it.

Audio books have also been a big winner. I’ve really enjoyed some of the books I picked up (mostly with the last few purchases on my employee discount at the bookstore… *shifty eyes*).

The Harry Potter books, narrated by Jim Dale, are delightful, as are any of the Hercule Poirot books narrated by David Suchet – my favorite of those was the short stories though. I also really enjoyed Stacy Schiff’s biography of Cleopatra. Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates is funny and historical, but hasn’t kept my attention as rapt as some of the other books I’ve listened to. (When you go through 10+ CD’s a week, you can get through a lot of audio)

The biggest unseen winner, though, is my Jawbone. I’ve not used a bluetooth headset before, and SSH convinced me that this would be a good purchase. He was unbelievably right. For more reasons than just the sound quality.

One of the things I’ve been missing with my new job is the community I was used to having in my free time. I’m not super keen on spending a lot of time in front of the computer when I get home, and my attention span is pretty short when I’m tired, so I’ve not been much into gaming. In fact, beyond twitter and email on my phone, these few blog posts have been more computing than I’ve done in awhile. Which means… I’m feeling kinda lonely.

Enter the Jawbone. Now, since I’m a captive audience for 60+ minutes every day, I can use those 60+ minutes to do something a lot of people don’t seem to do too very often anymore.

Call and talk to people.

It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to hang out on the phone for an hour with my best friends, but it goes a long way toward alleviating the lonelies. Really catching up with people is pretty nice too. And I don’t feel like it’s “taking away” what little free time I have, since I’d be sitting in the car anyway.

I suppose, over all, none of this is particularly groundbreaking, but I want to start this whole venture into the commuting world on the right foot, so to speak (the right tire?). It’s tiring enough to do the drive, without having all the other emotional baggage on top of it. I know eventually it’ll be routine, just part of my day, but I want that to be something I can use, and not something I just have to tolerate. I doubt it will ever be “ideal”, but at least it can be bearable, right?