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Crazed by commuting

Snuggled warm under the covers; I glance with one eye shut at the alarm clock... 5:29. One more minute until I have to battle the roads, the snow and the other drivers.

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Snuggled warm under the covers; I glance with one eye shut at the alarm clock… 5:29. One more minute until I have to battle the roads, the snow and the other drivers.

Commuting is new to me, and I’m not a fan.

For my entire career I have lived no more than 15 minutes away from work, until last year, when I re-located to Orangeville temporarily.

The shortest route according to Mapquest, to get me to The Hamilton Spectator is estimated to take one hour and 16 minutes. Hmm… when I take that recommended route, it takes me almost two hours! Traffic, traffic, traffic!

So each morning, I run to my car from my warm nest (through snow and sleet, which in Orangeville, can start as early as September) and jump into the cold, dark car.

My headlights shining straight ahead into the darkness and the heat in my car slowly warming up, I begin the usual ‘commuter’s lie’. You know, the lie us commuters tell ourselves to make the drive seem not quite as bad. It’s the same thing you hear your commuting co-workers telling other employees by the water cooler: “The commute really isn’t that bad, it’s kind of nice to have that time in the morning to relax and think and enjoy my coffee…”

Any commuter knows that trying to relax during the drive is a difficult task, to say the least. But I guess we have to tell ourselves that ‘it’s not that bad’ so we don’t go completely crazy! So on my drive that’s just what I do… grab a tea, put on some music and for the first 20 minutes, I am actually enjoying the drive…

Then it happens. No longer on the open country roads, I am forced to deal with other drivers… let the real stress begin!

Why are so many commuting these days? Some simply cannot afford to live where they work and are forced to reside in a more affordable area. Others may work in the city and want to raise their family in the comforts of suburbia. Many fall in love with a town or community they don’t work in, and then I guess there are some like me, who for whatever reason, are commuting temporarily and counting the days until it ends. (Two to go by the way!)

by shannon mastaler

SO WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE THIS DRIVE MORE ENJOYABLE?

Over the past year while I’ve been commuting, I’ve become a self-proclaimed expert! So here’s my Top Ten List of ways to make the drive a little more fun!

10. Take time to smell the roses – Ok, not smell but watch! Take in the sunset, the snow-covered trees, check out the scenery!

9. Book on cd – it may seem lame, but my good friend Char convinced me to give it a try, and I have to admit, it really helps to pass the time when someone is reading you a story!

8. ‘Glam’ up your car – air fresheners, fun car accessories, keep it clean! There’s nothing worse than spending hours on the road in a dump!

7. Talk radio – it may seem boring, but you’ll get educated on current issues.

6. Find a detour – switch up your usual route! A change of scenery always makes the trip go by faster.

5. Car Spa – well, maybe it’s not a spa, but a seat warmer that massages while you drive can really up the comfort level of your commute – just don’t fall asleep!

4. Drive a car you love! I know this is not always possible, but driving a vehicle you actually LIKE to drive, can really help with the commute.

3. Accept the fact that the lane you choose is ALWAYS going slower than the others.

2. Bring a few of your favourite snacks for the trip. (My snack of choice – dill pickle chips and cream soda!)

1. Music, music, music – load the car with tunes you haven’t listened to in ages – you’ll be dancing in your seat! And don’t forget about your ipod – perfect for long drives!

Write to me at smastaler@thespec.com and tell me your thoughts on commuting!

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