The Fantasies of an Angry Commuter 4


Landon and I live in the country.  Fact.  There aren’t many jobs in the country for a Sociology major with non-profit event planning experience.  Shit.  Who am I kidding–there aren’t a lot of jobs anywhere for a Sociology major with non-profit event planning experience.

So, when I reentered the job market last November, I decided to cast a pretty broad net.  My net was so big, in fact, that it included jobs in my beloved Philadelphia.  And the 60-mile commute that accompanied them.

I was lucky enough to get one of those jobs at the righteous not-for-profit Solutions for Progress as a temporary Help Desk Representative.  My thought process was this:  a temporary job will give me a chance to try the commute on for size.  Test the fit.

As my job with Solutions for Progress comes to a close, I think I have a pretty good feel for the fit.  The commute to Philly fits like a bra two sizes too small–irritating, unflattering, and a little itchy.  If I had to continue commuting to Philly indefinitely, I’d quickly grow to hate Landon, hate the cats, and hate myself.  The only thing left to love would be the Volvo’s heated seats.

There aren’t a lot of ways to pass the time while hanging out solo in a car.  I can: 1.) curse out other drivers from the safety of my vehicle, 2.) sing along to the chorus of Cee-Lo’s “Forget You” and Nicki Minaj’s “Moment 4 Life” ad nauseum, or 3) fantasize about a different existence.  At first, the fantasies started small.

“I wish that jerk would use his blinker.”

“I wish the on-ramp was two lanes here instead of one.”

“I wish John Butterworth provided a more accurate traffic report.”

After a little while, the fantasies got a little more fantastical.  I started inventing outlandish ways to tell the other drivers on the road how much I hated them and how much I hated their stupid cars.

Most of the inventions were pretty improbable, but I stand by one or two.  Like my two-word “Secret Message” visor covers.  Each visor is equipped with a cover displaying one word of a two-word phrase.  After someone really pisses you off, you creep up behind them, flip down your visors and give a little honk.  When they look in their rear-view mirror to see the asshole (you), they’ll be met with your pointed visor message:  “FUCK YOU”, “USE BLINKER”, “DRIVE BETTER”.  Wouldn’t you buy that?

At this point in my commuting life, my fantasies are huge, all-encompassing things.

“I wish I could be in a train right now.  I wish Governor Corbett would stop mouthing “I love you” to the natural gas industry and start taxing them.  I wish some of those revenue dollars could go toward expanding the public transit network in Southeastern PA to include the Greater Reading area.  I bet Reading–a city with as much financial strife as it has character–wishes that, too.”

“I wish people would start building jobs around the amount of time it takes to complete a task instead of the 40-hr. work week.  I wish P/T work didn’t make you a second-class employee, just someone who contributes in a different way.”

“I wish I could start a farm and hold down a challenging second job without driving 60 miles.  I wish I could convince an employer to let me telecommute or have the time I spend working on the train (the train that doesn’t exist yet) count as part of my work day.  I wish I had a powerful workers’ lobby to advocate on my behalf.”

“I wish there was a job market and an insurance environment that encouraged people to try new things and contribute in different ways.  I wish having a job meant a lot of different things instead of just a couple.  I wish cars didn’t exist.”

For all of you folks out there who think the 9-to-5, 40-hr. week is the greatest thing to ever hit the labor force, start commuting.  I think you’ll quickly dream up a whole new world.