December 24, 2008
The first paid job I had, post college, was 50 miles away from where I was living at the time. I started in October, and didn't find an apartment I liked until April the following year, so I spent two hours a day in the car for nearly six months. After moving my commute was on the order of 10 to 12 minutes.
I kept that 12 minute commute for most of the next fifteen years. At one point my daily drive was short enough that my muffler rusted out in only three years; apparently I wasn't using the car enough to fully dry the exhaust system. Fortunately I discovered the issue before the 36-month bumper-to-bumper warranty expired.
After moving to Vancouver Washington, I still had a 10 minute commute. However, my luck changed living in South Carolina. There I spent nearly 50 minutes on I-26 every morning and every afternoon. At the end of my 15 months in the Palmetto State I discovered that the stretch of I-26 I had been driving all those months was considered one of the most dangerous roads in America.
Upon returning to central Illinois my commute time was cut down to 20 minutes or so, with a slightly longer option that avoided Interstate driving at all.
The last four and a half years, living in the Kansas City area, I've had commutes of roughly 30 minutes every morning and evening, with nearly all of that time spent on the highway. I currently live some 24 miles from work, and on a good day, can cover that distance in as many minutes.
After the first of the year we will be living in Manhattan Kansas and my commute will be a mere 10 minutes again. All of it on surface streets. The past week or so, Kansas City, like much of the northern United States, has had some wintery weather which has more than double some commutes. Three times I've crept home at barely 5 or 10 miles per hour, spending well over an hour getting there. Knowing that I will soon be enjoying a four mile, 10 minute commute has made the longer the usual travel times both more bearable and harder to stand.
Only four more days of I-35. Only four more days of the back log at the I-435 - I-35 interchange. Only four more days of driving 250 miles per week, just to work.