Personal

Long Commute

I have a very long commute to and from the place where I am presently working. Most of it is beautiful, if you like picture-postcard English villages and rolling farmland…and I decidedly do. Aside from the beauty of the scenery, there are some interesting people-watching opportunities, such as the following:

On the way home last week we saw a dark red sportscar pulled into a layby in a small woods. The driver, a man, was standing against a gate in his shirtsleeves, crying with his face in his hands. We drove on by, as you tend to do. This week, the car is still there. It isn’t a breakdown, or he would have had it towed. The question arises…did the sobbing man go into the woods and end it all?  Has no one discovered him yet? Or is it all a coincidence?

There is an older lady who walks to work every morning. Every morning, she is wearing the same trousers, a kind of black pinstriped material, a bit too short and flared at the bottoms so they look like Star Trek pants. Every. Single. Day. It doesn’t look like a uniform, and she wears different tops with them. In bad weather she tucks them into boots, in good weather she strides along like Captain Kirk with her ankle boots showing beneath them. Enquiring minds want to know: does she have a closet full of idential trousers, and just switches them every day?  I prefer to think that she does. Nonetheless, we refer to her as “Crusty”. Eeeeuw.

Occasionally we see an obviously mad sort of man, wearing a nice black suit (once quite elegant) with dirty white trainers and a long scarf around his neck. Underneath I think he usually wears a t-shirt, but I seem to remember him not wearing a shirt once at all. His hair is wild, and he kind of bounds along. This is Alderley Edge, the fabulously expensive home of famous footballers, so I suppose of course the local crazies would retain a louche sort of elegance.

At the Costa Coffee place (similar to Starbucks) there was a group of very young schoolgirls (ages 8-10) sitting at the tables outside, sipping lattes and nibbling on croissants while doing their homework. It was too priviledged for words. They probably all had platinum cards.

But it’s not all Aston Martins and platinum cards in Alderley Edge, as illustrated by the older guy, fully suited but with tie pulled askew, who sat on a bus stop bench drinking directly from a bottle of white wine. Hunched over, wine dangling between his knees, he looked like the very picture of The Worst Day Ever – all he needed was his cardboard box of desk belongings and silver-framed pictures to be perfect.

And lastly, there are the second and third wives in their black SUVs on the school run (second and third referring to the younger versions that men acquire after trading in their starter wives) – not unique, because there are so many it seems as though someone must be turning them out on some giant Barbie factory line, but funny because they’re all so much alike. Very blonde, highlighted hair, even dark tans, butts aerobicised so tight they squeak when they walk. The SUVs are always glossy black, and they are so big you’d think they would require an HGV license to drive.

As interesting as the people are, my favourites were the rabbits. There was one field in the spring that was positively thick with little bunnies – all you could see were little ears waving above the grass. It was like Watership Down, I loved watching for the bunnies…but as spring wore into summer, their numbers went down and down and down. Because bunnies aren’t very smart about cars, and our lovely drive was practically paved with flat bunnies, the odd squirrel, quite a few pheasants, and the occasional slow or unlucky fox or badger. All our happy forest friends, squashed on the asphalt.

And that’s my drive.  :)

6 Comments

  • Mynxee

    I sympathize. My commute is 67 miles. It’s retarded, but there is no other option that will sustain marital harmony right now. I’m not sure what is losing its appeal faster–marital harmony or the commute *grins*. Anyway, the first 25 miles is completely rural and I spend some of that time dodging deer which seem thick as thieves this year. Have seen foxes, coyotes, and bears though…and plenty of horses along the way to ease the eye. Then I get into the borderlands between rural and city, but although visually unappealing at least it has Starbucks! Then for the last 25 miles wall to wall traffic on a four lane highway. That’s where I tend to get lost in music or books or podcasts or designing art or software projects in my head. Currently listening to Alice in Wonderland, which by some major oversight I have never read.

    It’s exhausting. I tend to hate everyone by the time I get home and the only thing that makes me happy at that time is to go up to the barn, lean against my mule Emma with my face buried in her neck for a few minutes and just breathe. Or cry, depending on the mood I’m in.

    So you’re not alone, hon.

  • TFM

    67 miles, you mean 107 kilometers?

    I hope that you are making fortune working there, otherwise its not worth it. After all its simple logic: getting new husband is far easier that getting back long hours of life lost on commuting:-)

  • Ravven

    Mynxee, I can so relate – that is a terrible long commute. It’s one of the tradeoffs, I suppose, of living in a lovely rural area. You generally have to commute into the city for any type of specialised position. It’s such a huge part of the day, though – if you could have those “lost” hours spent on the commute given back to you as free time, wouldn’t that be awesome? The stress of long commutes like that really wears you down.

    And non-horse people will never understand just how wonderful it is to put your face right into a horse’s neck, breathing in their smell. It’s one of the best things on the planet.

    And TFM, you’re right – it is a lot of hours lost out of one’s life. But these are hard times. Normally, you tend to travel long distances in the States, since the roads are so much faster/straighter than here. A drive with a lot of deer is a very tense thing, I used to hate it. They hesitate on the sides of the roads, sometimes hidden in trees, and then seem to decide to just leap in front of your vehicle. Hitting a deer is like hitting a wall – I’ve done it. So in deer areas, especially at twilight, I can feel my stomach tensing up as I scan for the suicidal buggers while I drive.

  • Mynxee

    No,TFM, not getting paid a fortune; just getting paid a very average salary. A couple of things have made things slightly more tolerable the last few days though. First, I started leaving at 8.30 a.m. Traffic has lessened by then, so I shaved 30 minutes off my commute! Of course this means I come home later but that’s not so bad. I do my treadmill or walking in the a.m.; in the evening, I just veg. And traffic on the return route is less as well. Second, my boss is cool with me working at home 1 day a week. In my experience, if you prove you’re productive 1 day a week, it’s not that hard to bargain for 2 eventually. Only having to go in 3 days per week would level everything out quite nicely. So keep your fingers crossed for me! And yes, very large equines are the most solid comfort in the world. I knew you’d understand that, Ravven.

  • Mistic

    I just came across your blog after searching for the EVE ‘failing’ curve image…and ended up reading several posts :)

    Just wanted to say I think your writing is great and I’ll keep an eye out for you in EVE if you continue playing either fighting with you or against :) I’ve been on and off for a while because I can’t find the same rush in anything else.

    I feel for you driving in deer territory, the worst I had was a pheasant hitting the windscreen and that was bad enough, good luck.

  • Ravven

    Thank you very much for saying that – that’s very kind. :D I do think about going back to EVE, as soon as I decide about dropping one game subscription.

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