in mundane

40 minutes. One way.

I have a commute to work. I live west of Midland, Michigan and my office is in Saginaw Township, Michigan. I’ve been driving roughly the same route for 14+ years. 80 minutes per day. 4 times per week. When you do the math, it’s kind of depressing. I’ve been commuting close to 150 days straight.

I often hear about colleagues who have a two minute drive to the office. “Yeah, it’s two or three minutes. It just depends on whether I catch the light.” Or better yet, “It only takes me five minutes to walk to the office, so I usually go home for lunch.”

Then there’s the guy in New York City who lives upstairs from the office. That’s way too close, in my opinion. Or at least don’t let your patients know it. I’d feel a lot more comfortable calling on a Saturday if I knew it was only a walk down the stairs for you. Just sayin’.

There are obvious advantages to a short commute. I think of all the wasted time that I could be spending with my family. I have two little boys, so they’re not in a lot of activities yet, but I know that’s going to be complicated. I’m not sure how it’s going to work. Perhaps I’ll squish a four day week into three days some of the time. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. A shorter commute would allow me to sleep in a little longer, too. I feed 12 horses, two dogs and a miniature donkey most mornings. So I get up pretty early. Shaving a half hour off of my commute would mean another half hour of shut-eye. I’ve always been one to go to bed early, but that gives me even more of an excuse.

I generally like to know what’s on the schedule for tomorrow and even for the week. So I usually go online to check the schedule if I didn’t take a look the day before. Occasionally you’ll see that one patient on the schedule. You know the one. She’s the one that makes you contemplate injuring yourself while mowing the lawn, just so you can miss tomorrow. Or the guy with the removable case that gets worse. Every. Time. You. Touch. It.

I’m here to tell you. 40 minutes is a long time to think about those patients. 40 minutes gives me time to contemplate each and every way that appointment can go horribly wrong. By the time I get to work, I’ve already lived those tragedies in my mind several times. The upside is that they never go as badly as I’ve imagined them. There’s almost always less swearing and often less bleeding.

The upside of a 40 minute commute is that there’s some time to unwind from work. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts almost constantly. 80 minutes a day gives me some time to enjoy these. I also use the Spotify premium app to listen to whatever kind of music I’m feeling like. My time in the car allows me a chance to think of ideas to blog about. Some of my best ideas for have come in my morning commute. This very blog post was inspired by the ride in this morning. I’m less creative in the afternoon, since I’ve usually spent the day working on patients so I generally just unwind. But I think my family gets a better, more relaxed version of me because I’ve got decompression time.

Anyone else have a commute? I’m interested to hear about it. Thanks for reading!

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  1. My commute is like yours… 40-45 minutes, depending on heavy my foot feels and as long as the Valentine 1 stays silent (no smokies).

    I also have two young’uns at home. But, oddly, I find my commute time is my “me time.” It’s the only “me time” I get most days. I can think without being interrupted.

    As you pointed out, sometimes that time of contemplation can be a cacophony of “problems” you’d rather purge from your mind.

    The bottom line is that I’m not moving my office closer to home, and I’m not moving my home closer to the office. And, so it goes. Embrace the “me time!” :)

  2. In a previous position many moons ag0, I had a 35 minute commute both ways…… I LOVED the morning commute – jamming to some great wake up tunes, enjoying my coffe – Me time for sure as the Dental Warrior said…. On the way home though, was another story…… I dreaded that 35 minute drive in rush hour traffic and always wish I could magically be transported home. When the weather didn’t cooperate, I would end up white knuckled and stressed to the max – driving through 6-8 inches of snow and it would take three times as long. I know, I know. What a baby I am! I did end up taking another position – my first position in a dental office!! So things worked out great for me :) My commute now is 6 minutes – haha, depending on the traffic and lights. I still do enjoy listening to my audio books though – each 6 minute clip at a time!

  3. I’m from Sri Lanka, I’m 25 years old and a fresh graduate. I don’t own a clinic but I kinda run a clinic because the owner works at the hospital and don’t have time for his little clinic. I don’t own a vehicle either. I take the bus which is a 10 mins ride then I walk nearly two kilometers which take around 15 mins. After the clinic hours when I’m thoroughly exhausted both mentally and physically I’ve to walk back to the bus stop and wait for the bus which sometime never comes(I take the auto rickshaw then). So it takes an hour for me to get back.

    I do wish to live nearby, but then I’ll often meet my patients outside on the streets. in the shops etc, and I don’t think it’s a good. What do you think ?

    Some days I travel for a long time and I was looking for ways to use that time effectively, audio books sound like a good idea.