Monday, 30 April 2007


I started a new job today. I live in Guildford and as of today commute daily to Earls Court. The journey each way is about 1 hr 45 mins door to door, meaning that 3 1/2 hours of non-leisure time cling like a parasite to every 8 hour working day. Talking to members of the project team I am working with, I find that this is not atypical, and I am not alone in having a long commute. The question I found myself asking was, "Why am I not alone in adding nearly 50% non-fun onto my working day, and £150 to my weekly expenses?"

I work for a consultancy which is based in Guildford. My home is roughly three miles from the office, and I can often work from home. I like this arrangement - I can commute on foot, by bicycle, or by car, and on a good day, my commute is five minutes. I'm currently contracted to provide eight weeks' support to a customer in Earl's Court. So instead of moving house for eight weeks, I will commute to work. When this contract finishes, my next contract might be working from the office, or it might be on the other side of the country. Geographical variety is a hazard of my job. Most of the other members of the project team are not contractors, but permanent employees. They have no prospect of working three miles from home in a couple of months' time. They do this every day, and have expectations to continue doing this every day for the foreseeable future.

I find commuting a terrible waste of life. Looking at all the blank faces on the trains and tubes coming and going every day, I can't help but smile at the thought of the commuters in their Virgin Pendolino trains. Pendolino means "pendulum" in Italian. It is also the word used for a commuter. I love the mental image this conjures up, with commuters pointlessly swinging between their homes and their offices. Bravo, Virgin. Then I remember I have just joined the ranks of these commuters.

I will look forward to my next contract....


Deepali said...

Commuting can be a real pain. In the city I live in, it's very common to travel 1 hour to get to work. Which means that in a day you spend 2 hours just traveling. Most people get use to it but it's still a lousy way to spend time.

But Why? said...


Yeah, I hate commuting. I'm still working for the same customer, but I've since moved up to London and now have a twenty minute walk to work (and a ten minute jog to my rowing club). It is so much better than spending what should have been my leisure time on packed commuter trains!