I work in West London but live all the way in the South East of the city. Alright, alright – so I’m hardly trekking to Australia and back. In fact, some colleagues travel even longer distances to get to the office but given many of them are coming in from outside London, by their own admittance their journey’s are often quicker, certainly less bitty than mine (especially as they tend to be on the one fast train for the entirety or majority of their travels). So whilst mine may not be the longest commute on record, some mornings it definitely feels as though I’m trudging to the other side of the world!
I leave home early to miss the rush hour crush. On a good day my journey time is approximately an hour and 30 minutes, door to door. So three hours in all each working day. On a bad day it can be much longer.
I take three trains to and from work, more if services are particularly horrid with such problems as signal failure, broken down trains etc etc. Each train ride itself isn’t very long – it’s the connections plus waiting times between getting each that’s a real pain. Also, the walk to my initial home station and vice versa adds another ten-fifteen minutes each way but this I don’t mind. If anything, it’s the best and least stressful part of my journey (when the ground isn’t covered with treacherous, icy snow. Rare in my neck of the woods but not unheard of!)
Another thing that complicates my journey is I’m five feet tall. Just. Most people I encounter on my travels are not only taller but bigger, so when a packed train arrives at whatever platform I’m waiting on I have to make split second decisions about whether it’s safe to get on: “Will I be able to breathe?” being the primary question I ask myself. On many levels it would be much simpler if I worked nearer to home. A friend and colleague walks the 20 minutes to and from work each day having made the conscious decision to live close to the office and pay the higher rent and council tax her home address demands.
If I were to get a job nearer to my house I wouldn’t get paid what I currently earn but I could certainly manage. And yes, in another job closer to home I’d have the realistic luxury of walking to work and being back at my front door within a reasonable time-frame. But, and here’s the crux of the matter, what would the rest of my day – which let’s not forget is the longest part of my day – be like? There’s little guarantee I’d find the amazing job satisfaction and colleagues or the equally amazing and inspiring team environment I currently have elsewhere. In fact, wouldn’t I be beating the odds if I did?
I meditate religiously on this thought no more so than when I’m neatly sandwiched between two giants and inhaling lungfuls of unidentifiable train odours, consoling myself with the knowledge that once I land at the office I’ll be seeing the smiling faces of colleagues who’ve become friends; who I can freely joke and laugh with; who are super excited to show-off the new pair of shoes they not only insist kept calling out to them from behind the shop window but looks so much better on their feet than it did on the woman modelling them online! Best of all is the professional advice, support and plateau of comfort food we offer one another, all of which is always at hand to help get us through whatever else the working day has in store.
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