I made my first commute to my new office on Monday morning. I left my driveway at 7:55, and I arrived at 7:57. Sweet! I’m going to love this commute. It took me 35-40 minutes to drive to FedEx from my home in Midtown. It wasn’t a bad commute, mind you. I was going against traffic, so there were rarely any issues that might cause me to be late. But, if I had to drive home, I certainly didn’t want to drive back to Collierville. And, I have a dog, so when I get off work, I had to hightail it home to let her out. I was pushing the limits keeping her inside all day. I tried to let her out in the yard, but she hated it. She’s a sissy inside adventurer dog like her Mom. It worked, but I’m glad I don’t have to do that here.
Today, I had my friend Jean Ann over for lunch. I had time to saute’ some veggies, serve her lunch, make green tea dark chocolate lattes to go and got back to work on time. Not only am I going to save on gas, but I’m going to eat healthier because I can eat at home. I need to get back to my 6 meals a day to control my blood sugar. I used to bring 4 of those meals to work in plastic containers. I have a ton of them. I was putting them in my cabinet the other day and I realized that I won’t have to bring all of that food to work. I can run home at lunch. Not to mention that if I’m saving 38 minutes each way, I’m getting free time that I can use for a run! I already had time to run this morning and then time to cook tonight with even more time left to blog before heading to bed at a decent hour.
Growing up in Watson, it wasn’t weird at all to have a 45 minute commute to Baton Rouge. I remember carpooling with my Aunt Shirley, Momma and my cousin Bonni when we all worked for the State downtown. Bonnie just retired this month, so I was with her when her career started, and I’m now working at where she retired. She retired on a Friday, and I started the next Monday. We laugh about those carpooling days with our Moms. Carpooling seems so ancient with today’s practice of everyone having their own car. Back then, it wasn’t at all unusual for a family to have one car or just two even with a bunch of drivers in the family. You learned to share rides.
The worst commute I ever had was in Seattle. Seattle is a city with a lot of water. Lake Washington runs east of the city, and Puget Sound is on the West. With these large bodies of water surrounding the metropolitan area, all of the traffic has to cross Lake Washington on two bridges. So, there’s this very tight funnel for all of the East-West traffic. With these bottlenecks, the North-South Interstates get VERY congested. You can view traffic cams for the Seattle area here. The guy I dated when I lived there lived in Kent WA which was 24 miles south of Kirkland where I lived. It was totally normal for that drive to take 3 1/2 hours because of stop and go traffic. He eventually moved in with me, and it became very problematic because he worked at Boeing down South. More than once he missed work because traffic was so bad that his day was almost half over by the time he got there.
The worst part about traffic in Seattle was that it was dark and rainy most of the time. Now, the summers and fall there are beautiful, sunny and temperate. But, the winter months and early spring and summer are drizzly and dark. The first week I was out there, I was in my condo cleaning up, and it started to get dark. I was assuming it was about 5 PM or so. It was 3:30 in the afternoon! It really didn’t get full daylight until 9 during that time of year. So, if I was driving to work during regular commute times, it was dark and rainy EVERY day. It totally sucked. It’s no wonder that the people of Seattle are out in droves on the rare sunny days that they have. It can be really depressing. The really fun part about commuting in Seattle is taking the ferries. To work over on Bainbridge Island, I had to take a ferry. I would wait in downtown Seattle for the ferry to dock, drive my car on board, walk up on deck for about 40-45 minutes and then get back in my car and drive off the ferry. It was a unique experience, and I loved doing it. It was a relaxing way to travel.
I moved to St. Joe, Michigan next, and my commute was 10 minutes on a country road. The first day I drove to work I caught myself speeding and getting frustrated in my old Seattle ways. Really? I finally realized that I didn’t have to hurry up. The worst case scenario is that it would take me 15 minutes instead of 10. Big deal. When I moved to Chesterton IN, a suburb of the Chicago area, I once again had a heavy traffic commute. They had commuter trains that would take you to Chicago, and it was not uncommon for my friends to ride the train for an hour into the city and walk to their offices. I always thought that would be fun. I could read, talk on my phone, chat up my neighbor instead of stressing out about traffic. But, no, I had to drive to Hammond IN, and the only route was on I-90. It was a 31 mile commute, and it took about an hour most days. Traffic moved but it was slow stop and go from the time I got on the Interstate until I got off. I hated it. There was nothing scenic about that stretch of road, and drivers were not friendly.
In Chicago and Seattle, drivers were in a hurry, and they blew their horns a lot. I was surprised when I got to Memphis that people didn’t blow their horns. In fact, I sat behind someone who sat through an entire green light and no one blew their horn. I read in the Memphis magazine that at one time it was against the law to blow your horn. So, it’s part of the culture there to refrain from sounding the horn unless it’s absolutely necessary. That doesn’t seem to be the tradition here in Baton Rouge. I’ve already been blown at several times.
Memphis traffic was not bad for me. I was always going against the downtown traffic, but it did look pretty bad heading in that direction. People didn’t know how to drive. Maybe that’s because nobody sounds their horn when they do something stupid, so they never learn. And, I guess here in Baton Rouge the traffic is really bad. After Katrina hit New Orleans, the population here doubled overnight, and the roads are not equipped to handle it. I’ve heard that it’s improved, but it’s still pretty bad. I’m stoked that I won’t have to fight traffic on my two minute commute to work. I joined the YMCA right across the street from my office. There’s a running group in my neighborhood, and I hear I can bike downtown. One of the things I loved about my Midtown Memphis neighborhood was that I could walk almost everywhere I wanted to go. I hope I can do that here. It saves me time and it saves my attitude. I don’t think I could do that Seattle or Chicago drive time anymore. It’s just one more thing I can be grateful for here in Baton Rouge.