The civilized man has built a coach, but lost the use of his feet. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance,” 1841
I drive. A lot. This week I will have spent approximately 17 hours and 45 minutes in my car. Just this week…and that’s not even a particularly busy week. That’s primarily work with a couple other side trips. Almost 18 hours…that’s two very good nights sleep or three of my usual nights, that’s enough time to watch 8 or 9 movies, or fly from DC to London and back. I know there are people who drive more, some much more, but this self pity-party is for me. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the national average for travel time to work is 25.4 minutes. I can’t tell you how glorious a 25 minute drive to work sounds.
So let’s do the math just using my commute time to and from work. My commute is essentially an hour each way under the best circumstances and likely averages closer to 70-75 minutes. I commute from the suburbs into a major metropolitan area. A quick google search indicates that I work in the second worst traffic city in the United States. Yay for me! For the purpose of keeping the math simple lets say I spend two hours a day in the car for a total of 12 hours a week (I work at least 6 days a week, often 7). For the month that is 48 hours of time in the car. Think about that…better yet maybe you shouldn’t if you are in a similar situation as me. That is a full work week each month just puttering around in your car. Lets get even more depressed…For the year using these numbers I spend at least 600 hours in the car. That’s 12 hours x 50 weeks, yes I’m giving myself two weeks off and of course I’ll make sure not to do any driving those two weeks. That is 25 days, not 25 work days but literally 25 full days. Nearly a month of the year spent in my car. Now that is a sobering statistic and frankly some sad shit.
So why think about it? Generally, my advice would be to not think about it. After all, it’s not going to change. Not for the time being anyway. I have no plans to quit my job. I think more than anything it makes for an interesting commentary on the American state of being. Its representative of this hamster wheel we are stuck in. Best advice: find a way to make your time useful. Me, I listen to books. Mostly for pleasure but sometimes for continuing education. Other times I listen to sports radio. Occasionally I use my car as a mobile office and save necessary phone calls for when I’m on the road. And sometimes, I just use the time to think. Another symptom of this unending hamster wheel is the need to feel like we are constantly doing something. Thinking, introspection, reflection, lost arts and seemingly not taught or appreciated anymore. Enough deep thoughts for today though, time to drive to work.
Categories: Random Rants & Philosophizing