Are You Willing To Drive Three Hours A Day For Work?
March 15, 2013

Are You Willing To Drive Three Hours A Day For Work?

Every week day, from Monday to Friday, I wake up and drive approximately 17 miles to work and then every afternoon I drive the same approximate 17 miles home. So, I drive roughly 200 miles a week for work, at least during the fall and spring semesters. I actually love my little commute. I take a beautiful country highway route to my rural community college. Every morning I watch the sun peak its rays out and then rise to greet me. On the way to work, I can prep my thoughts for the classes I teach that day, while the way home allows me to unwind. It is really nice.

However, redOrbit recently reported about commutes that sound less than nice. In the article, redOrbit explained about the findings of the American Community Survey specific to commuters. What they found sort of shocked me. Accordingly, “About 8.1 percent of U.S. workers have commutes of 60 minutes or longer, 4.3 percent work from home, and nearly 600,000 full-time workers had “megacommutes” of at least 90 minutes and 50 miles. The average one-way daily commute for workers across the country is 25.5 minutes, and one in four commuters leave their county to work.”

I simply cannot fathom commuting for 90 minutes one way to get to work. I mean, I like my little 17-mile commute, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to wait 60 minutes to get to work let alone 90! That is insane.

redOrbit continued by identifying the states with the most megacommuters, and most of them were East Coast states. This actually makes quite a bit of sense. Not only are these states highly populated, but several metropolitan cities exist in the areas from New York City to Washington D.C. Furthermore, since these states have such high populations, people must seek jobs wherever they can find them.

This is not the case for the central states. Take my current home state of Oklahoma, for instance; it is a rural state with a population just under 4 million as the U.S. Census Bureau estimates. True, we commute but we do so in much shorter distances on the whole. Sure, some people live in way rural Oklahoma and commute to more metropolitan areas, but they will be the minority. I would imagine that states like Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Arkansas, and others have similar reasons for the shorter commutes. We live in or near where we work.

We have this luxury because we do not have as many people to compete with for jobs. With lower populations, we have more opportunity for finding local jobs. Moreover, we do not have the mass transit systems that states like New York, Virginia, and the District of Columbia have, thus we must think about travel costs (including gas, car maintenance, and tire repair) in a different way.

Commuting to work takes up much time for many individuals across the U.S. When people spend three hours a day traveling to and from work, I have to wonder what they do during that time. I barely make my 20-minute drive without feeling like I am wasting time. Luckily, I carpool to work, so often I can read on my commute. I’m sure if I lived somewhere with trains or subways, a commute like what megacommuters experience would not be so overwhelming. Really, though, I hope I never have to experience such a commute.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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