Commute v. Public Transit: The Bright Side of an Otherwise Groan-Inducing Topic
For a while now, Mr. B and I have only owned one car. Our initial decision to downsize our automotive collection was both driven by a financial consideration, as well as a intention to do good things for the world. In Columbia, MO we lived within a couple miles of everything we needed to do on a daily basis: work, school, fun. After a couple of months of “practicing,” we traded both of our Honda Civics in for one gently used Subaru. We biked and walked a lot more, carpooled quite a bit, and put a whole hell of a lot less gas in the tank.
When we moved to Seattle, transportation was a major consideration as we hunted for apartments. Since I wasn’t sure where I’d be working yet, we decided that it was most important to be either within walking distance or on an easy public transit route for Brian. We found an apartment a few miles south of his store, and he takes the light rail to work everyday.
I found a job that is a bit further away…at 2 in the afternoon, I can drive to work in about 20 minutes and can set the cruise at 60 on the freeway and coast. The catch: I never go to work (or come home from work) at 2 in the afternoon. I leave work and spend the next 40 minutes stop-starting my way home. Why don’t I use public transit to get to work, you ask? Two selfish reasons: one, it would double my commute, at least. Possibly triple it. And two, it would require me to get out of bed at 4AM, possibly earlier and that, my friends, I’m not willing to do for love or money.
For the first few weeks this traffic situation was incredibly, harrowingly, horrifically godawful. When I stopped thinking about my dog impatiently waiting for his walk, or the dinner than I wasn’t going to have time to make, the run I wasn’t going to be able to take and the hours of kickback time I was losing, I began to listen and look a little more. Seattle is a beautiful city–even without the mountains and the water. The architecture, the skyline, the cute little neighborhoods are enough eye candy to keep me busy for months. And Seattle has the best public radio stations. Seriously, their community radio station, KEXP is touted as one of the best in the country. To an uncultured Midwestern girl, my eyes (or ears) are constantly being reawakened to some new group or genre, some that I can’t even find on Itunes yet. And, thanks to the talk radio stations, I’m far more up to date on my current affairs, my local politics and I, unlike most of America according to Facebook, can explain what the Occupy movement is all about.
I did ride the light rail home from downtown the other night. I sat for thirty minutes and watched the world go by, shifting from shiny, tall buildings to industrial and square to neighborhood bungalows. It lulled me into a state of contentment–I see why Brian really enjoys his rides home. I’m jealous, a little. Because the only thing better than getting to listen to all the good music and all the news and information would be to do it without having to operate a motor vehicle.