Ode to commute

If you live in a metropolitan area in the USA, your daily commute to and from work is seldom less than two hours. More likely, it “s anywhere from 2.5 to 4 hours. I live in New Jersey, and if I work for a client in New York City, I take a bus. If I work in New Jersey, I drive.

Commuting to Manhattan by bus

Lots of families moved from New York to New Jersey looking for a better quality of life, especially if they are raising kids. Many of them keep working in Manhattan, and if you “ll ask them, “How long does it take you to get to work? rdquo;, most likely they “ll lie to make their choice of place to live more attractive. For example, people in our town would say, “An hour rdquo;. Which is true at 2AM on a weekend when all roads are empty. The real estate agents shamelessly write that we are located “in a short 45-minute commute to the heart of New York city rdquo;, which is also true if your helicopter is waiting for you on your driveway with engines on and you have your own landing spot in the city. In the reality, if you leave home a seven in the morning, the chances are very high, that you “ll make it to the 9AM meeting.

New Jerseyans go to the city by train or by bus, and you can use this commuting time somewhat productively. People who live in the city take subway, which is an absolute waste of time. I take a coach bus, my laptop is with me all the time, Internet is on, and I do something useful while commuting ndash; blogging, reading the other people “s blogs, writing books and articles, watching movies, listening to the world radio stations over the Internet. I bought a laptop with just 13 inches monitor, so when the person in front of me reclines his seat, I can still work. When I was a rookie bus rider boarding a half full (or half empty?) bus, I “d select a row with two empty seats. Then, I quickly realized that this was a mistake, because as the bus picks more passengers, someone would definitely take a seat next to me, and the chances that it “d be a Playboy centerfold model were pretty slim. Most likely, it “ll be a two-hundred pound snoring guerilla in a dawn jacket. So I “ve learned my lesson, and now I pick my neighbor on the bus myself; even if I see a completely empty row, I do not take it. I take a seat by a young lady, or a skinny person of any age. A young lady is always a better choice, because she does not snore. On the other hand, she can immediately fall asleep on your shoulder which somewhat complicates the use of the laptop.

My dentist, Dr. Bella, lives in one of the boroughs of New York and has an office in Manhattan. She has golden hands and heart (212 889-8907). Dr. Bella works very hard commuting to Manhattan by bus paying her three hours a day to the Lord of Commute. Someone gave her an advice, rdquo;Move and live closer to your office and you “ll have extra couple of hours a day rdquo;. She said, “I have a couple of hours on the bus when I can rest and nobody bothers me, and you want to free these hours, so I can fill them with more work? Thanks, but no thanks rdquo;. Dr. Bella is a wise lady.

Commuting by car

Currently I have two clients in New Jersey. One is 53 miles away from my home and the other one “s offices are in short 60 miles. And I have to drive there. Driving is worse than riding a bus. My use of laptop is somewhat limited ndash; it “s hard to type while driving with a speed of 70 miles an hour. The laptop is still on, connected to the Internet, I created a small Web page with large buttons (so I can easily click on them while driving) that connect to various radio stations broadcasting over the Internet. I bought a little FM transmitter so the radio programs received by my laptop are being broadcasted through my car radio speakers. On the regular basis I “m listening to IT-related podcasts. If I “m stuck in traffic, I check my emails too. At some point, I was even recording carcasts ndash; this is what I call recording while driving. I was wearing a headset with a mike is connected to the laptop, and I was just dictating and recording right on my laptop ‘s hard disk. I “ve recorded and published (unedited) eight of them, but then I got bored. I “m still planning to learn French while commuting – I bought a CD but did not start yet.

Last week I met a colleague in the office. He was transferred to a different location and was complaining that now he spends five hours commuting. I “ve asked him, “What do you do while driving? rdquo; He said, “Nothing rdquo;. I suggested him to listen to the IT podcasts, Internet radio and told him about my FM transmitter. He said, “It “s a good idea, but I do not need a transmitter. My Hyundai has an input on the dashboard, and I can just plug in my MP3 player there rdquo;. I was really surprised, and this reminded me of another story.

Last year, my friend “s wife said, rdquo;Yakov, please talk to my husband. He wants to buy Hyundai. Talk him out of it rdquo;. OMG, Hyunday? I said to him, “Why you want to do this? Good programmers do not drive Hyundai! rdquo; He replied, “I did my research, and they offer the best value for the money rdquo;. I said, rdquo;It does not matter. Do not embarrass your wife. rdquo; He did not buy Hyuandai.

But this colleague of mine is also a very good programmer, and he does not give a damn about prestige and just drives Hyundai. While American car manufacturers were busy adding cup holders to their cars, only Hyundai designers were smart enough to add a little jack on the dashboard so people could plug in their audio devices right there! My hat off to Hyundai!


IMO, in ten years, at least half of the IT workers will be working from homes. Sooner or later employers will realize that it “s just plain stupid requiring employees spend three hours in the car and $10-$15 a day for gas just to come to their cubicles. These “very useful rdquo; meetings can be attended by means of various video/audio conferencing tools that are mature and inexpensive. If you are a project manager reading this blog, please ask your team, “Who wants to work a day or two from home? rdquo; I “m sure this offer will be received really well. It does not matter if your corporate policy does not encourage working from home. Think out of the box, be a real leader and do something good for your people. Trust me, your business won “t suffer. Besides, you do not complain about not seeing the faces of your offshore team, why you local developers should not have the same privilege of not being in the office? Think about it and make a difference.


Here ” a relevant joke hellip;a little modified by myself.

God has invited religious leaders of all concessions. He said, “I do not like what “s going on Earth. Here and there Catholic (and priests!) are accused of child molestations. Orthodox church can “t defeat alcoholism. Jews do not observe Saturday. Muslims are blowing themselves up in the middle of shopping centers expecting that I “m going to give them 72 virgins for that. WTF? Go back and tell your people that if they won “t change for better, I “ll flood the Earth again, and do not expect Noah this time rdquo;.

A catholic priest returned from this meeting, gathered his people and said, rdquo;Guys, please stop molesting kids, otherwise in two months we “ll get flooded rdquo;.

The orthodox priest told his people, “Stop drinking, otherwise we all will die in two months rdquo;.

The Muslim leader said to his crowd, “Stop blowing yourself up, otherwise, we “ll get flooded and die in two months. Besides, I “ve got the insider “s info ndash; Allah is out of virgins rdquo;.

The Jewish Rabbi gathered his congregation and said, “Jews, we have only two months to learn how to live under the water rdquo;.

The bottom line: if you can avoid long commute, just accept it, make it as useful as possible and get a peace of mind as I did.

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