Commuting 101: The Not-So-Fast & the Extremely Furious

So, if you know me, or we are acquaintances, or we have met briefly, or we have passed each other on the sidewalk and made casual eye contact, then you know that I have a long commute to work.

This is one of my favorite topics to complain about, so I thought, instead of my usual endless moaning and groaning, let’s dive into the subject that is the daily commute. (You’re welcome for finding another outlet, coworkers!)

Before I begin, let me just say that I have a fun job, and I truly get to work with some of my best friends. I also recognize that this is the epitome of a first-world problem. That being said, commuting blows.

I know you might be saying, “Kelly, commuting can’t be ALL that bad.” I hear you, and am nursing a healthy desire to swiftly karate chop you in the throat because I’m really tired and cranky from my drive home. So instead of unnecessary violence, let’s do some fun role-playing.

If you truly would like to know what it’s like to commute to your job every day, follow these easy steps:

1. Get up and get ready for work like you usually do, only set your alarm clock for an hour earlier. (Bonus: sleep through said alarm clock. Rushing out the door while still having an hour drive ahead of you and being super groggy just amps up the fun!)

2. Go into a semi-dark room. Turn on a radio, if you’d like, but it’s not mandatory. Sit on a firm but padded chair. Maintain a straight spine. Now, sit there just like that for approximately one hour. (If it’s raining, make it an hour and a half.)

3. Ask your spouse or significant other to periodically pop into the room and jump frantically in front of you whilst making an angry face and flipping you the bird.

4. No closing your eyes, but silent ugly-crying would increase the realism factor.

5. At the end of the work day, repeat steps 1-4, only make it at least 20 minutes longer. If it’s Friday, sit there for 2 hours, just for funsies. You’ve earned it!

Okay, so now you know what it’s like to have a daily commute. Congratulations! You’ve not only lost countless hours of your life, but you’ve significantly aged and lost much of your hope in humanity. You’re a real grown-up now.

But I’m not here just to make you suffer through a mind-numbing sedentary exercise. I’ve found a few ways that make the commute suck just a little bit less. Try these out, or better yet, just move closer to your job. (Seriously. Just do it.)

1. Find a good morning show. 
Radio stations play the same songs over. And over. And over. Even the Austin-area stations that cater to obscure indie music play the same songs repeatedly.  It’s like the hipster Top 40–much like the traditional Top 40, only dressed in skinny jeans and with an ironic mustache.

Morning shows shake things up and hopefully the hosts talk about current events, and you get to learn something on your drive.

Ahhh just kidding. You’ll get your fill of pop culture and Hollywood gossip and mindless drivel, but hey, it’s better than hearing “Blurred Lines” 50,000 times!

2. Listen to podcasts.
It took me over a year to discover podcasts, and I’ll admit I was pulled in like the rest of you with “Serial.” Podcasts are better than morning shows in that there aren’t commercials, and even if they’re advertising something, you can skip through it (sorry, podcast hosts).

Here are some of my faves:

  • Serial – Yeah, start with Serial. Decide for yourself if Adnan Syed did it and end your listening experience with frustration and anger at the ambiguous finale with the rest of us. IT’S SO WORTH IT.
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class – The hosts talk about more obscure historical events and people, AKA the more interesting ones, like Crown Prince Sado of Korea, who was one messed up individual. This obviously makes for great podcast material. Some of the episodes are a little more boring, but I just comb through for stuff like the Axman of New Orleans. Did I just reveal a little too much about myself here?
  • Sawbones – This is a really funny weekly show about how messed up the human race has been through the years at trying to figure out medicine. Hear about fun topics such as syphilis and enemas! Yay!
  • Invisibilia – The ladies who host this show talk about the invisible forces that hold society together, like our thoughts and fear and the strange and necessary categories we place ourselves into. The hosts also sound EXACTLY the same so you can have fun trying to tell them apart! (Hint: you can’t!)

3. Download some audiobooks.
Listening to books is the new “watching-the-movie-version-instead-of-actually-reading-the-new-bestseller”!

Actually, audiobooks are iffy for me, but some people really love them, so I thought I’d include them on this list.

I’ve tried to listen to a couple. You know how your parents used to read you books before you went to bed and it made you nice and wonderfully sleepy and you’d happily doze off? Yeah, me, too, and audiobooks do the same thing for me, which is probably not the safest thing when you’re driving to work.

Here’s the thing: books are written to, well, be read. They include long, epic descriptions of landscapes and settings and how a person is eating her filet mignon and how her face scrunches up when she laughs and blah blah blah. This paints a picture when you’re reading. It may do the same for some people when listening, but it just makes me sleepy.

Podcasts are written to be listened to–i.e., they get to the point. You can certainly tell the difference, so I rate podcasts more highly for the mighty and evil commute.

That said, you might love audiobooks. Try one out. If you fall asleep, then it might be time to try another strategy. But what do I know. You do you, man.

4. Keep some snacks in your car.
There comes a point in your drive home when you’re sitting in traffic and suddenly you become irrationally hungry. Like, you’re gonna pull over and get two Big Macs and some KFC if this damn traffic doesn’t let up so help me God!

I’m still working on this one, but you’ll save a ton of money and calories if you just stash some granola bars or some other disgusting healthy snack in your car. Plus you won’t be shaking with hangriness when you’re still 30 minutes from home and THE PERSON IN FRONT OF YOU WON’T LET YOU PASS. Sorry, I have some unresolved anger there.

On a side note, don’t be this guy:


So, there you go. In two years, that’s all I’ve come up with. If you have a commute, what are your tricks to not utterly losing your sanity? Share in the comments!


2 thoughts on “Commuting 101: The Not-So-Fast & the Extremely Furious

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