When I moved up to the bay area in 1994, I really had no concept of what commuting meant.
I lived in Los Gatos, California at the time and worked in Newark, CA, which is a distance of 25 miles or so. It is a drive that should take about 30 minutes or so, give or take. Unfortunately, I’d have to drive through the silicon valley, which means that the 30 minute drive turned into a 1 1/2 hour commute each morning and often a 2 hour commute back home each night. I don’t like to drive, but I especially don’t like to drive in traffic.
By the time I got to work in the mornings I would be incredibly agitated. It wouldn’t take much to push me from agitated to angry either. Though I did a pretty good job of keeping it bottled up, I would often catch myself mid-tirade when someone would do or say something that I found disagreeable. It wasn’t until a few years of this boorish behavior that I realized that driving each day really pushed my buttons.
In early 1996 I moved from Los Gatos to Newark (just across the bay from Palo Alto) and things changed for the better. When I moved to downtown San Francisco in late 1996, I got rid of my car altogether when I realized that parking was worse than the traffic in or out of the city. From that point forward, I rarely found myself angry. Sure, occasionally something would irritate me, but the lingering animosity i felt pretty much disappeared from my daily life.
After moving to Maui in 2004, I began telecommuting, completely eliminating any type of regimented driving from my life. These days I work for myself out of an office in my home and rarely get in to a car unless it is to ride shotgun on trips to eat out or shop. Eliminating car rides altogether is still a goal for me, but for now, not being in the drivers seat will have to do.
This morning while walking the dogs around the neighborhood, I watched the morning commuters, white knuckles grasping the steering wheels of their cars, and I thanked whatever forces exist that I’m not among them.