It’s the best of both worlds I was told. Living in the countryside outside our capital city and working in it, and this may be the case if it wasn’t for the commute in between!
The job that began my commuting life I primarily got through creating a tube map for a presentation of a day in London. I explained how quickly and easily the tube could get you from place to place to make the most of your day. Little did I know as I made it I would soon come to realise that things completely change when go from just a user of the tube to a commuter on the tube.
As I started my first commute to London I was excited. I’m a London commuter! I would use this extra time wisely; to write, read and get work done. That lasted all of about 3 days. Not so easy to write when you are squashed between several people, your face pressed up against a window and an armpit waving around your nose. All I had really gained was FAR too much time to think and therefore worry about all the things I should be doing and needed to do with the little time I would have when I got home.
It is true that the tubes are great as a quick and easy way to get around the maze that was London to me. As I have got to know areas better I have begun to realise I was going to places on the tube that were just around the corner and walking would have got me there far quicker. But, even on the tubes I was still baffled, often going in completely the wrong direction in utter panic! This was until I got a handy tube app which made it slightly easier by telling me where to get on, the line to take and where to change and get off.
I commuted to Central London, which was door to door for me, 2 hours to work and 2 hours home. Four hours a day! Just think where I could get in that time; somewhere with sea, sand and sangria perhaps. This is without any delays for ‘planned engineering work’ or more often than not ‘signal failure’. Plus, I paid over £400 a month for the privilege.
The day started with a 6.30am, which when I started may as well have been the middle of the night, alarm followed by a car, train and several tube journeys plus a walk. Which was repeated after the days work, arriving back home at 8pm (on a good day). Why do people do this I ask myself? Why am I doing it?! As much as I love working in London I started to hate going in each day. That dread you feel on a Sunday evening as your weekend is drawing to a close and your working week is about to start again was doubled for me by the thought of getting back on the train!
So, back to my first journey, when I was full of the joys of spring wondering why everyone looked so miserable… now I know! Here are a few reasons I have come to dislike the life of a London commuter, a far from complete list but I don’t want this to become an essay…
- At rush hour they are always packed, it is hard to even get on a train and if you do you are squashed between people with armpits in your face and knees in your bum.
- When people cram on, somehow managing to fit in a space when you were convinced the train was full to bursting already. You are so packed in that faces are pressed against windows as the train pulls off. That whole minute till the next train is far too long to be expected to wait..
- Not waiting for people to get on, where grown men would push you in the tracks to get on in front and get a seat.
- ..and then off, if you wait 2 minutes instead of pushing past me you’ll see I’m getting off to.
- So many people end up standing, that there is fight for a seat. Quiet celebration when you actually manage to get one coupled with the guilt of whether you should offer it to someone else. Or when someone offers you a seat the mixture of concern are they being nice or do they think I’m pregnant.. cause I did have that big lunch today.
I think I’ve become one of these hardener commuters. I know where I’m going and just want to get there. Constantly annoyed at people getting in the way of my journey! This is until I’m not doing one of the 2 routes I know well then I’m that person that gets in the way of the hardened commuter, holding up there journey by at least several seconds, looking utterly lost.
So why DO I do it you ask? Honestly I’m not sure I know.
It’s exhausting and you have no social life. Daily routine is get up, travel, work, travel, bed; as this is all you want to do by the time you get in, after your 9 hour working day has been extended by four hours. Some days I felt too exhausted to even watch TV! Which was pretty boring when you share stories the next day at work and hear what fun everyone with a 10 minute journey across London had.
I have stopped commuting and I don’t think I could go back to it, although I did say that after the first time so you never know. But the amount I get done now before I would have even got home is insane!
There is a bizarre contrast between one minute being in the hustle and bustle of busy London to the next driving round the quiet country lanes of the countryside. In this sense you do get the best of both worlds. If only I could click my fingers and be there without the commute.
I’ve moved to the outskirts of London – I so get what you mean! I try to distract myself with music, books, the internet. Anything to keep me sane!