Making the daily commute more bearable

IT is Wednesday and the traffic is crawling along. It is only the third day back after our two-week holiday and already the 60-mile daily commute is bringing out the worst in me.

I sit in my uncomfortable car and make my way slowly down the M1 in first gear. It takes me one hour and fifty-three minutes to get home. “Two hours!” I tell Chris as soon as I open the door. “That’s two hours I’ll never get back.”

Chris smiles and nods sympathetically.

“It’s always on a Wednesday,” I rant. “Everyone in the world is out on a Wednesday.”

“Except me,” Chris says. His commute today was walking from the bedroom to the dining room table, something he does most Wednesdays on account of the extra traffic.

“It’s alright for some.” I say, grabbing my foot and pulling it back to stretch out my quads. I do the same on the other leg. Next, I stretch my back and shoulders, which is when something in my neck crunches.

“Listen,” I say, and do the movement again. More crunching. “You can actually hear my muscles.”

I do it again.

Chris nods and pulls his sympathetic face.

“My car’s so uncomfortable,” I wail. “Not like your car, yours is really comfortable. I notice a difference as soon as I get in.”

I am waiting for an offer of a car swap, but it doesn’t come. “You shouldn’t have gone for a sporty car,” Chris says. “You should have gone for comfort.”

If I was shorter the car would be fine, but I’m not, so I have no choice but to fold myself into it. “It’s not the car,” I say. “It’s the commute.”

“Work from home,” Chris suggests.

“I can’t.”

“Get another job.”

“I don’t want another job.”

I walk away, grumbling about how I’m wasting my life stuck in traffic. The morning commute is fine because I’m up and off so early no one else is on the road. It’s the journey home in rush hour that’s the problem. If I was on a train I could read or write, but in a car, entertainment is limited. But then I have a thought! I could get an audio book.

What a great idea. I can’t believe I’ve not thought of it before. No sooner thought than I’ve made a purchase and I’m all set with a book.

The next day when I leave work I do not get that familiar feeling of dread at what’s coming. Instead I squeeze into the car, hopeful that with a book the journey will at least be bearable.

The book is good, it passes a few hours. The next day I’m eager to drive home to find out what happens next, and by Friday I’m completely hooked. Friday is usually a good commuting day and I’m home in an hour, but something unexpected happens in the book and I need to find out more, so I take a bit of a detour, hardly noticing the traffic at all. Then when I get home I sit on the drive in the car that’s far too small for me, listening to the end of the chapter, and then the chapter after that.

When I finally go into the house, Chris looks worried. “You’re home late,” he says. “Was the traffic bad?”

“Horrendous,” I say. “I could do with borrowing your car.”

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