September 22 I celebrated 5 years at my job. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long because it’s gone in a flash ( what’s the phrase- ‘the days are long, but the years are short’). I live about a 45 minute drive from work, a distance that I don’t quite mind most times, though because where I work is a seasonal tourist town by the ocean, the commute home in the summer, if not timed correctly, can be in the range of 75 minutes. In 5 years, the worst commute I had was maybe 3 years ago when it took me almost 2 hours to get home ( in a car without AC).
The commute has always been something I looked forward to ( most days) because it gave me the ability to get mentally ready for work in the morning and decompress on the way home. I’m lucky that my commute has multiple roads I can go home, all with many stores and spots that make running errands on the way home quite easy. I also like that I have both physical and emotional distance away from work– I never run into colleagues on the weekends running errands ( not that I don’t love them, but it’s nice to actually have me time on weekends without work reminders) and I almost never get called in for emergencies ( one hurricane I had to stay at work but I was paranoid because my boss was on vacation and I had visions of museum collections being ruined and me, two bridges away, unable to cross them to save collections).
Because I’m a glutton for punishment ( or something like that), I calculated the time I’ve spent in the car over the past 5 years. Working 5 days a week for a year is about 260 days spent at work each year ( of course, this doesn’t count sick or vacation days, but I’m rounding up). With 90 minutes total round trip commuting ( an average because of course there are days when it takes more or less than 45 minutes to get to work), that’s 450 minutes a week in the car– 23, 400 minutes/390 hours/16.25 days a year spent commuting.
Since the thought of that was depressing, I recently decided I had to change my attitude about my commute because unless I move or get a different job closer to home, I’m going to be doing this drive for the foreseeable future. While listening to NPR has enlightened my commute greatly over the past 5 years, I rarely listen to it for the entirety of the drive home because in my after work tired state, I often find the talking to be more soothing than interesting and have way too many times had that almost want to sleep at the wheel feeling.
So I’ve taken up with audio books, which have become the savior of my commute and also are helping me kick my yearly reading goals butt. I’ve learned that memoirs or short stories/vignettes are best for me in the car because it’s easier to remember what’s going on, but I’ve listened to some good pieces of fiction too ( Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder I highly recommend). Comedians/satirists are best, though the reader of the audio book is key ( I really liked Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck, but she was the reader and at times, her voice was too soft and soothing for driving at 7AM). I highly recommend BIll Bryson, Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and Ellen Degeneres’ Seriously, I’m Kidding. Audio books have also helped me get through books I’ve struggled with in print, namely Hillary Clinton’s Living History which I have stopped and started a few times, but in audio format I found it quite good ( and so interesting– many aspects of her life I knew nothing about).
I’m hoping that this also helps reinvigorate the commute as the colder months approach, as it is often so difficult to commute when leaving and coming home in the dark each day. If I’m going to be in the car for at least 45 minutes a day, I’m happy I can reclaim it as productive me time and enjoy/learn in the process.
Would love any audiobook recommendations too!