Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Commuting Sucks

Here’s an interesting article from The New Yorker on the rise of commuter culture. It’s mostly filled with human interest stories, but what’s fascinating is the lengths some people with go to commute to what seem to be fairly average jobs. I can understand a lengthy commute for a dream job or one with great advancement opportunities, but to commute six and a half hours a day for a job as a legal secretary when you’re in your 50’s is something I can’t fathom.

Americans have an average daily commute of fifty-one minutes, which isn’t that bad. However, one in six Americans commutes more than an hour and a half per day and there are 3.5 million “extreme commuters,” who travel more than ninety minutes a day, a number which has doubled since 1990. As I said, this would obviously change with a dream employment opportunity, but I couldn’t imagine commuting more than an hour per day regularly. I could put up with that commute (or not make it at all) for a shorter work week, but to do that every day seems like a waste. I guess the problem is that people are given employment opportunities which may not be their dream jobs, but seem so superior to other options that they’d rather be safe and take (or stay with) the job than try to find a relatively similar opportunity closer to home.

The article suggests that this may not necessarily be the right choice, as two Swiss economists at the University of Zurich have concluded that you’d need to make 40% in salary and perks in order to be as happy with a one hour daily commute as a worker with a minimal or no commute.

Anyhow, with the knowledge than an extreme commute may await me in the future, I better make the most of my ten-to-fifteen minute walk to campus. I live in a shittier residence, but it’s one of the three residences that are within a fifteen minute walk of campus. I haven’t been inside all of the other residences, but I’m pretty sure I’m happier here than I would be with a somewhat larger room and kitchen and a thirty minute walk during the cold English winters.

It’s pretty irrelevant anyway, as I’m holding out hope for the instantaneous teleporter to be invented in the next decade. Or a transmogrifier, just because that’d be pretty awesome.


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