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Article Archive >> Community

Daze of My Life: Apparently, Traffic is Not My Only Problem

Daze of My Life
Apparently, Traffic is Not My Only Problem

Do you want to know the effect rush-hour commuting 26 miles one way from Burtonsville (my home in the northeast corner of Montgomery County) to Connection Newspapers in McLean (the office) for 11 years has had on me? Presumably you do, if you've read this far. That effect is, I've been beaten into submission, behind the wheel of my car, that is. Specifically what I am referring to is, the opportunity I had, as did many other worker bees, to take vacation time - or to take unreimbursed time off - between Christmas and New Years.
Given the fact that many people already take this time off, and thus it makes conducting "normal" business extremely challenging, please add the additional consideration that we have no newspaper to deadline during this interval (since we have gone to press early). As such, there is much less to do, fewer people with which to do it, not many people to call and zero deadlines to meet. In short, it's time that could be spent easily and rather uneventfully somewhere else. And compared to the other 51 weeks of the year, hardly anyone would even be the wiser and few, if any, inconveniences would result for, or to, the clients, company or salespeople. Yet in spite of this most opportune time to miss work, I chose instead to come to work.
Why you ask? Well, if you're still reading, I guess I've piqued your curiosity (or you have nothing else to do for the next five minutes). The answer is, that I continued to work during this interval fortnight (Wed., Thurs. and Fri.; Dec. 26, 27 and 28 and likewise on Wed., Thurs., and Fri.; Jan. 2, 3 and 4, the Monday and Tuesdays were company holidays) because the commute to work was simply too stress free and too pleasurable to pass up. The 35-minute commute actually took 35 minutes, not 90, not 75 or not even 60 minutes. It took as many minutes as it should in your dreams but rarely does in your reality. And so when a reality of such opportunity presents itself, it is an opportunity, at least for me, too tempting to pass up, and so I commuted to work as per usual.
And even though I had ample vacation days still on the books, I couldn't miss these six, one-of-a-kind, extremely rare commutes. After 11 years of enduring so much commuting pain and suffering, if ever a commuting window such as this opens up, even a crack, I have to take advantage; it's part of my compensation package, you might say. It's simply too tempting a salve to rub into my psyche (metaphorically speaking) in an attempt to ease my troubled mind. And so I worked and thoroughly enjoyed my 35-minute non-meltdown. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait a whole 'nother year to experience more such delusional days of similar comfort and joy.
Perhaps it seems like a small thing to cause such a big fuss, but if you've commuted (and not been committed) in the Metropolitan Washington DC area during rush hour (talk about an oxymoron) and you know who you are, missing a commute, either by leaving early or staying late or vice versa or both, means everything. Not only do you avoid the pain, you experience the pleasure, a real quantum leap if there ever was one, with all apologies to Scott Bakula; that was make believe, this is real.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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