A few weeks ago, we asked you to submit your commuting sob stories and promised to share the best (worst) of them here. The entries more or less fell into the following categories:
1. My commute sucks
2. My commute used to suck
3. I work remotely, so neener-neener
4. Hey, I actually like my commute, you pro-remote work bullies!
Thanks to everyone who submitted stories. It’s wonderful to hear that some folks don’t mind (or even enjoy!) their commutes. For everyone else, here’s hoping REMOTE can help spark conversations about the freedom to work from wherever you want.
Some highlights and excerpts from the submissions:
My worst commute was from Santa Cruz to Mountain View, California, which was an hour each way. There were accident scenes every day between me and my destination, usually on the way back. Many of them were fatal. ... One San Jose cop pulled me over to inform me that people don’t like cyclists in the Valley. So I left.
The worst thing about my commute is when I accidentally kick the cat when walking down the stairs to my home office on the ground floor.
Until this past July, I was commuting my life away in Massachusetts on the #70 bus from Waltham to Cambridge. ... Every now and then, a sleepy commuter sat down next to me and dozed off into a nap so deep that his body would slump against me and I became a pillow of sorts. … I found that when I was knitting on the bus, no one sat beside me. When I discovered this, I began to knit strategically.
I work in Boston as a construction project manager. I live exactly 25 miles away from my office. I drive those 25 miles almost entirely on I95. This 25 miles can take as short as 25 mins or as long as 2.5 hours. ... I actually graduated with a degree in computer engineering but have never worked in the field. ... I want to get into technology as it is my true passion, but all I do is sit in traffic.
I live 85 miles away from the office, and my journey takes in three major motorways, one of which is the M25—historically renowned as the world’s longest carpark. I usually rise at 5 a.m. ... that’s right, I start my 9 a.m. job at 7 a.m. because every half an hour later I leave the house adds a significant factor of unpredictability to my drive in. If I’m lucky, I get home at 7.30 p.m. The motorways are not kind mistresses and I can only listen to so many podcasts every day. ... I work for a CEO who does not trust her employees to avoid the siren calls of daytime TV and the comforts of their sofas, and would rather have us under her beady eyes, so she can “make sure we’re working.” I kid you not. Our IT systems are also sadly incapable of supporting the roaming worker bee, as they are archaic and poorly configured. ... Please don’t send my CEO a copy of the book, as it would be utterly wasted on her.
I live in a city called Nova Iguaçu, around 40 km from downtown Rio de Janeiro. So let’s say I want to get at the office around 9AM. I need to wake up at 6 AM. Take my breakfast and shower as fast as I can, then go running for the bus stop. This bus will take me to the train station in Nova Iguaçu. It takes like 20 minutes, in a good day, to get there. ... [The train] usually never arrives at the scheduled time, really never. ... no air conditioner for us. Imagine in the middle of Rio’s summer of 43 degrees. Crazy hot, and crazy sad and sweaty. So the train takes like 1h, also when it don’t break on the way, to get to the downtown of Rio de Janeiro. Summing all up it takes around 2h 30min, in good days to get to work. When there’s some havoc on the train lines, some bad guys put fire on some trains, it can take 3h+.
I live in the Netherlands, the country with more bikes than inhabitants, thanks to the wonderful cycling infrastructure. My work is dead smack in the historical center of Utrecht, a 300k person town. Commuting means 25 minutes of cycling, some 9 kilometers. Great to get a bit of workout for free and to clear my mind. My wife is jealous ‘cause I’m basically forced to get some enjoyable time in the free air!
I commute 20 miles every day to and from work in a huge massive sprawl of a city called Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria with an estimated population of 14 million people. Due to the insufficient infrastructure … there are usually massive, standstill traffic jams on the main arteries leading to the city centre. In my bid to avoid this terrible holdup, I wake up every working day at 4 a.m. and get out of of house before 6 a.m. ... On the roads even at that ungodly hour of the day are corrupt policemen and traffic enforcers who are ready to extort you for the smallest traffic infraction, private transport bus drivers who are mostly high on marijuana and illicit alcohol, driving recklessly and making sane driving on the road a hellish adventure.
... My one “no-budge” during this time of my kids’ growing up was that I was home when they walked in the door after school, and I got them off to school in the morning myself. ... my employer reluctantly agreed to let me have 32-hour workweek and kept it very hush-hush so others would not want the same thing. I took a pay cut. I did not get promoted and later learned that a big factor was my “arrangement.” I was a pile of stress. My commute was a white-knuckle affair each and every day. ... Had I been able to be “Remote” back in the day, I think my employer would have had a better employee and would have gotten more from me, 40 hours at the very least, and my kids would have had a much healthier mom.
My commute consists of 3 parts:
Driving 20 minutes to a Park and Ride
Taking a 60 minute bus ride (hope it’s on time!)
Then a 40 minute subway ride (please no delays)
It takes 2-2.5 hours EACH way. ... the buses are sometimes FULL! Which means I am sitting outside for an additional 30-60 minutes in addition to the regular long commute. ... If I choose to go to the gym, I get up at 4:15 a.m. Don’t get home until 8 p.m., eat then sleep between 9-10 p.m. and repeat. Love the job, not the commute.
The most heart-wrenching story we received, we felt, belongs to this father of three:
Through two counties. One highway. Two interstate freeways. Passing one downtown at rush hour x 2. 77 miles round trip. Every day. All in a white ‘99 Saturn coupe with the original seats still in it (which are completely lopsided/broken/tweaked due to the massive body builder who owned it before me). I barely get home in time for dinner and to put my three young kids to bed. I leave before my oldest goes to school in the morning. Do I feel I’m commuting my life away? Yes. Sigh,
David, we’re really sorry to hear that and we hope your situation changes soon. We’ll be in touch about where to send your gas card and your (and your CEO’s!) copy of REMOTE.