Sunday, June 3, 2012

Thoughts on a Commute

Currently, because of the side of town we live on, I commute between forty-five minutes to an hour, depending on route and traffic, to get to my job. The problem is mostly that I live on the other side of downtown Greenville, and four days of my five-day workweek I am fighting traffic until I can get onto the north side. After awhile (since I can't imagine there are that many people commuting from Greenville - a city - to Pickens - a smallish town), it's just me, the road, and the mountains.



See, it could definitely be a worse drive than that. Actually, before I started taking this road, it was.

I used to take a different highway to work, mostly because it was a highway I knew and had used more than once before to drive to our friends' house in Clemson. However, that particular route not only took me through downtown Greenville, it forced me to bottleneck with the other commuters in Easley, as well. Easley's roads are not terribly well-designed for the morning commute, and I'm pretty sure their traffic lights were programmed to cause as much congestion as possible. Add to this that you've got commuters going to Easley, taking the split to Clemson, and even some hardy souls with me climbing the hills up to Pickens, and you've got a serious traffic problem.

It took me an hour in the morning, an hour at night. On Saturdays, when I would get lucky and the traffic is terribly light at 7:30 in the morning, it would still take me about forty-five to fifty minutes.

So I decided to try the country highway I'm using now.

I still have to get through downtown Greenville, but once I've done that, my shoulders relax and I watch my fellow commuters peel away left and right, turning towards their respective places of employment or dropping their kids off at day care or school.

NPR is a steady stream of news this early in the morning. The light is tinged a little bit yellow-gold, with the sun not all the way up yet. By the time winter comes around, I'll be driving in pinkish-gray dark. If I time things correctly, my drive takes me about forty minutes on weekdays and a half-hour on Saturday.

The way home, though, is a little bit different.



The light is brighter, there are other cars on the road, and I can't time things as effortlessly. Nonetheless, I just don't worry so much on this highway as compared to the busier, semi-city highway I was taking before. Once we've bought our house, I should actually cut my commute down to a half-hour on bad days, a little less than that on a good one. Trust me, I'm not complaining - I prefer to stick with the back way, to come around to work from the side.

The simple truth is this - I was raised on country roads. This one goes up and down a little bit more than I'm used to, but driving past pastures of cattle, the occasional horse, and homemade wooden signs nailed to old trees is a pretty familiar feeling for me. Up to and including the consistently slow-crawling elderly men in ancient, beat-up Ford trucks I find myself stuck behind almost every day.

There's just something pretty seriously cool about driving up into the mountains to go to work. I can see why people live up here. I can see the draw - I mean, the last picture up there? Directly to the right of that SUV is someone's gigantic green lawn, fenced with your average white picket fence, acres and acres of yard. Imagine stepping outside in the afternoon and that being your view.

I'm going to make public this goal, here and now - one day I want to be wealthy enough to have a giant house in the mountains. And a passel of dogs. Maybe enough cats to make Jason nervous.

Ssssh, though.

Don't tell him I said that.

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