Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Freeway Jam

A little less than a year ago when I returned to work after my surgery, I made a hopefully permanent change to working from home two days out of the week. I really enjoyed being able to do that - it was so nice not having to dress up for work, or put up with the commute there or the commute home, and get things done in peace and quiet, sans the numerous interruptions that inevitably accompany being in the office. Heck, I could have gone with 3, 4 or even 5 days of telecommuting!

Alas, that shangri-la was temporarily shattered back around May when someone in our office had surgery and the boss wanted me to come in every day while she was out. It seemed like an eternity but eventually she returned and I went back to my two days at home, three in the office schedule.

Alas again, I am once again back on a five-day-in-the-office schedule because that same person, out in May having surgery on one knee, is now out having surgery on her other knee. As you can guess, I can't wait for her to recuperate and get back in the office! It makes a huge difference in my perception of the quality of work life when I'm able to work from home those two days.

On the days I commute, I'm on the road by 6:30 in the morning. There are plenty of cars all over the place even at that early hour, and it seems to be getting worse.

Where are all these people going?? Are they going to work like I am? Conceivably so, since many people begin work at 7 or earlier and being that everything is so spread out in Southern California, many of them have long commutes. It's getting to be that there are few serene times on the streets and highways around here.

At least the traffic moves at 6:30. Try getting on the freeway an hour later and it's a parking lot. It really doesn't clear up until after 10:00. One day last year I took a day off and decided to head over to my fave taco place, Tito's, on the west side of town. I left a little after 9:00, planning to have a leisurely drive over there and an early lunch and couldn't believe how much traffic there was. Don't people have to be at work before 9:00?? Where were all these people going??

Several weeks ago I had to make the drive to the west side a couple of times during the week in rush hour and again, the traffic was overwhelming.

The rat race is getting rattier.

Every day so many of us climb in our cars to execute the same old routine. Is it really adding value to anything? Our paychecks are dangling in front of us and we do need them in order to survive but I keep thinking there has to be a better way. Is the reward proportional to the effort?

I ponder the quality of life here in Southern California. Would I be happier elsewhere? I find it is just too darn crowded here; my idea of a good place to live would be somewhere with broadband internet service and a Costco and Trader Joe's not too far away, within UPS delivery range for those packages from Amazon, but was itself uncrowded and knew no rush hour. Then I wonder if maybe that's just grass is greener syndrome that is afflicting me.

Julie likes it here because of the convenience of everything, plus where else in the U.S. has a plethora of Chinese restaurants like in the San Gabriel Valley? I suppose I would miss my Tito's Tacos as well, but there really aren't any strings I wouldn't mind cutting except for the question of earning a living. What sort of living could I earn in a more isolated area? That's when I start thinking I shoulda pursued writing more seriously.

That's today's wishful thinking. Sometimes it feels like each day is a glowing example of the Peter Principle, lol.. Civilization increasingly becomes spaghetti.

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