I started work as the office manager (or Operations Assistant, in Army terms) at a vet clinic here just a few months ago. I was doing the same job in Germany and loved it; I interviewed for this position months ago but had to wait awhile to take the job. It has been so great to be back in a vet clinic, back with people and clients, and back to feeling like I am doing something I am good at. However, I have to commute to this job.
I have never had a commute like this. I once worked at a school in Iowa that took me 30 minutes to reach, but this was all country roads, i.e. smooth driving. Driving on the freeway in Hawaii is no snooze-fest! One combats traffic, aggressive drivers, and such bright sunlight you may think you are going blind. My commute is anywhere from 30-60 minutes each way. I initially thought I would hate this and would want to quit my job because of this alone, but the opposite has happened. I have actually grown to enjoy the commute, despite all these things.
Why do I like the time in the car? How do I not go crazy with the drivers and the traffic, which is always inconsistent and dependent on construction, accidents, stupidity, etc.? There are a few reasons:
– It’s a routine: I know that 5 days of the week, I am going and leaving from a certain destination. I drive the same route, I see the same sights, and I usually follow the same pattern – pack up car like I am leaving the country (coffee, breakfast, lunch, gym gear, work clothes, daycare essentials, grocery bags if I need to get to the store), drive to daycare while sipping said coffee and dodging slow drivers, drop off child, get at least 45 minutes at the gym, then work. It sounds boring, but it is consistent. I always know what I am doing, why I am doing it, and where I am going to that day. There is some comfort in this.
– I get time alone with Leo: so the girls take the bus to and from school, which means I get minimal time with them before they leave. Leo attends daycare near my office, which means he is making the commute with me. He does not mind because there are toys, snacks, and movies in the car. I love it because I am able to get some time alone with him. Yes, I am driving. But I can talk to him, sing with him, laugh with him, and know that no matter what happens, he is about a 5 minute drive from me. He tells me about his day at “school” and his friends (he says they are named Kylo, Darth Vader, Hulk, and Spiderman, so his credibility is shot). We point out clouds and cars he likes. We sing songs, and he yells when he wants me to stop. It is not always perfect quality time, but I will take it.
– I get to feel like a badass: when Andy and I were first married, I was terrified to drive on I-27 around Clarksville. I had heard horror stories of drivers and accidents, and I was very young. I grew older, we moved and moved AND moved, and I conquered every place. Once I had figured out the Italian Autostrada and the German Autobahn, I felt like I could drive anywhere. But freeways in Hawaii….something new. The rules of the road do not always apply, people can be either friendly or rude depending on the time of day, and no one follows the speed limits. Yet every morning and afternoon, I conquer the freeway. I navigate in and out of Honolulu and north to my home with ease and without frustration. I AM A BADASS DRIVER, capable of all kinds of traffic and driving around the world (slight exaggeration, but don’t kill my buzz).
– I feel like an official grownup: nothing makes you feel more like an adult than responsibilities, a job, an income, and a commute. I can complain about the traffic, the gas money, the exhaustion, etc. So adult, right?
– It’s MY commute: I am not driving someone around to a sport practice. I am not picking something up or making time to do someone a favor. This commute is for MY job, for MY interests, and I am happy to do it. Nothing makes me feel better than to be needed and good at my work. If I have to commute a little to accomplish this, than so be it. And the paycheck does not hurt, either.
I think if I had to commute hours each way, I may feel differently. However, I chose this position and this commute. I wanted to work here, and I knew that the drive was part of accepting this position. What is some time in Stitch, my van? I love my office, my co-workers, and my job; I am also learning to love my commute, even on the long days. With enough coffee, snacks, potential reading material, and patience, I have found my commute to be nor only a normal part of my day but an enjoyable one.