Why my life would be better if I didn’t commute

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:

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!

4 thoughts on “Why my life would be better if I didn’t commute

  1. Am I Thirty? says:

    I used to have to do a total of three hours every day so I definitely feel your pain. I did get a lot of reading done during that time but I much rather would have done the reading in the comfort of my own home.

  2. tj6james6 says:

    Assuming you have an iPod or similar you could also listen to music, podcasts, download a movie and watch it, learn to speak another language, talk to folks on the train, etc.
    I usually enjoyed my commute—45 minutes each way—with the exception of having to catch the bus at 6:00 am for day shift or 9:30 pm for night shift and the bus being so bloody crowded after work it was often flying room only on the bus. I had people I talked to, I got plenty of reading done, listened to my music and occasionally slept, lol.
    Now that I have a car that commute time is cut in half but with winter coming I would much rather leave the driving to the bus drivers so they can watch out for the idiot drivers and I could relax. Alas, the budget doesn’t leave room for gas/maintenance/insurance AND a bus pass *sigh*.

    • Lauren, Wake Up Your Luck says:

      You are right, of course! (In fact, I just realised my post has veered far from my title – how does watching PLL make me a better person?! I must have been too tired to make sense last night.)

      I could definitely do a lot of these things, although I actually have one of the old, square iPods that I haven’t updated in five years, so I’d need a new one to improve the walking. The crux of my problem is obviously not the time, but the environment. The train = millions of people + standing up + heating on + feeling faint, then walking = dodging people at high speed as if it’s some kind of sport – I am not cut out for this city! I miss my commute to Edinburgh. However, there are always pros and cons – I wouldn’t like driving because of the reasons you said!

      • tj6james6 says:

        It’s almost Santa time, perhaps he’s listening :D.
        I don’t like big city living either. I’d be perfectly happy in a cabin in the woods where the closest neighbor is no less than a few kilometers away instead of in the next apartment.
        I don’t particularly enjoy driving but it ‘s the lesser of two evils for me since cabs are outrageously expensive and I wouldn’t want to do a large grocery trip on the bus and I’m really, really thankful for a car when the wind is blowing hard or it’s raining.
        I have learned over time that our bodies become used to the same exercise over and over. Years ago I used to drop weight like no tomorrow when the hot weather hit because I sweated most of it out at work because I walked so much. Not now. Now my body just laughs at me and asks if I really actually want that to happen, lol. I think I have lost about ten kilos over the last year and it’ll go right back on over the winter *sigh*.

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