Completely unsurprisingly I got exasperated on the way home today. There have been speed restrictions on the trains since this morning because of a broken bit of track, so I was lucky I wasn’t late for work. However, I was late to my evening-at-home-relaxing, so that was annoying. (Not to mention the woman who pushed me onto the train. May all of your trains next week be too full to board.)
It is obvious that I would be less stressed if I didn’t have my commute, but, for the first time, I stopped to think about the amount of time I allocate to it. Since I left uni, I have always had at least forty-five minutes to commute, and for two years of university I lived at home and travelled to the city, which took a similar amount of time. As a result, I take for granted losing two hours a day in transit. I think most people do, especially in cities.
However, two hours every (working) day is a twelfth of your whole day just moving from one place to another. Today I will spend less time with my partner than I will spend with strangers on the train.
This is what I could do instead:
- Cook an elaborate meal
- Read a Peirene novel (all designed to be read in under two hours)
- Watch Pitch Perfect
- Fly to Copenhagen
- Go to Paris on the Eurostar. (It takes 2 hours 15 minutes, but I’ll take the fifteen minutes from this evening’s delay.)
Don’t those all sound infinitely better than commuting?
To be fair, the time is not a total waste: I usually read for my twenty minutes on the train, and the rest of the time spent walking is basically the only exercise I get. Still, every time I’m stuck on the platform, waiting on a train, I get hugely jealous of one of my friends who has a twenty-minute walk to work and that’s it!
Instead of the ten hours every week spent on the move, I could:
- Watch fifteen episodes of Pretty Little Liars (over half a season)
- Do an introductory course on Forensic Science and Fingerprints
- Fly to China
- See Les Mis three times over
Each year, 52 weeks minus five weeks’ holiday (apologies, Americans, I know this is a very respectable amount of holiday!) = 470 hours or 19-ish days commuting. I could:
- Walk from London to Edinburgh and back. And back to Edinburgh. And back to London again. (OK, this would be worse.)
- Re-read the entire Harry Potter series eight times
- Do an intensive Greek language course
- Take 47 guitar lessons. Or 47 one-hour lessons on anything!
- Do this blooming amazing Canada trip (but I would also need a pound for every minute spent waiting on trains in order to afford this)
I could learn more, travel more – do so much more – but I will have to settle for reading (when there is enough space) and getting a little fresh air.
And at least it’s not an hour on the Underground!