Musings from a Commute

While sitting in traffic almost a month ago, I decided that rather than fight my commute like I’ve been doing, that I am going to use it for good. Or, as good as it can be.

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Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the first time that I’ve tried to do something with my commute. There were a solid few months there where I listened to a Spanish-learning podcast, but I was bad about remembering to charge my iPod, etc. I almost¬†always am on the phone during the commute home, whether with clients or friends. However, since most people don’t want to be on the phone around 5:30 – 6:30 in the morning (my normal commute time), what am I to do?

My phone, and indeed most phones, smart or otherwise, comes with a voice recording app. Though I feel like I’m speaking into my own Captain’s Log, I can actually speak some thoughts into my phone, and then give it a rest, knowing that I will get to it later. I wish that there was a way to do this more frequently. Alas, I have cube neighbors, and they may think it slightly disturbing if I talked to myself all day.

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Nevertheless, here are my brief musings, coupled with the typical long-winded introduction.

It is 6:07am on October 2nd. There are two types of commutes that I do. There’s the regular commute, where I leave at 7am, to hopefully get to my work at 8 (typically 8:20, due to some jackwagon’s inability to drive without crashing into something on the way), and there’s the earlier commute, where I leave earlier and go to the gym before work. I get a good workout in, shower, and get dressed there. The major advantage of the earlier commute is quite obviously that I get to squeeze a workout in when there may not be time later in the day, and I get to beat a vast majority of traffic.

Even through the fog that currently encompasses my sleep-addled brain, there are a number of things that I can appreciate about both getting up early, and getting to the gym on a regular basis. Besides the aforementioned obvious benefit of there being less traffic, I also enjoy being up early. Lots of people aren’t up, it gives you a mental advantage to getting things done, and you get to see the city sort of “come alive” as you’re driving down Lake Shore. Depending on the time of year, the sun could be rising, which creates an absolutely beautiful view. The buildings are mostly dark, with lights here and there.

One of the things that stands out a bit currently is the difference in driving habits between the two sets of commuters. The “7am-ers,” we’ll call them, seem to drive begrudgingly to work, sort of soldiering on to work, with no real sense of urgency, save for the few who overslept and are now having to drive recklessly on the highway to make up for lost time. The “5:30am-ers” have a greater sense of urgency, which I think is driven by a sense of purpose. They seem to be more involved in what they’re doing. No one is really texting, and for the most part, most of them are focused on getting where they need to get, so that they can do what they need to do. I can really appreciate this, both from an efficiency standpoint, and from a maturity standpoint. I can appreciate that there’s a lot fewer people on the road.
The interesting thing is that it’s easy to appear dedicated when it’s the middle of the workday. You’ve had a chance to slug some coffee, send some emails, get fired up about something or another, and interact with other people. The people who are awake early are motivated by a greater sense of purpose. Just look at the difference in runners. The runners that you see out in the two circumstances are totally different. People that run during the day will sometimes run as part of a sort of “dog and pony show.” They like to be seen and see others. The people that run during the early mornings have busy days, but still enjoy being in shape. They’re no less friendly than their slightly more sleepy counterparts, but they’re not concerned as much with appearances. They’re concerned with results. Has my pace decreased? Has my distance increased? The people that run during the day are often in great shape. The people who run in the mornings come in all shapes and sizes, which I can really appreciate. They’re running to actually run, and they’re the real winners in my book.

Stay tuned for more commuting musings.

-A.