I’m sitting at home in my housecoat with a cup of coffee watching the morning traffic reports. There is the inevitable accident between 232 and 264 Streets. There is a slowdown in the tunnel and the stall on the Alex Fraser. The Pattullo is choked and the Iron Workers and Lions Gate are moving at a snail’s pace. From the air, we see a long line of headlights and taillights, frustrated people on their way to work.
In my entire working life, I never lived more than five minutes away from my place of employment. During those years, a trip into an early morning meeting in Richmond or Burnaby gave me a glimpse of what commuters went through every day.
I would have to set my alarm, get up an hour or more earlier, plan my route and estimate my travel time and figure out where to park. I was stressed by the time I got to the meeting, as I’m sure many of these daily commuters are as well.
It was a major departure from my normal daily routine of getting up 45 minutes before work, watching the news, showering and shaving, leaving the house at 8:25 and parking my car at work at 8:30. Some days I would have to stop at the end of my driveway to let a neighbour go by, but most times it was clear sailing.
On occasion, an opportunity to apply for a position with a larger city would arise, but knowing I would have an hour or more commute was reason enough to turn it down. Besides, working in the town where you lived, you knew the politics, the geography, and who was married to whom, which was always important.
My neighbour had a small three-stall red barn on his property. I parked my old truck beside it one fall day and took a great photo. I had it enlarged to 24 by 30, framed and put on the wall in my office. One day a few years later, a couple of developers came in to get a burning permit to burn down a “garden shed.” I looked at the address and told them that it was actually a barn and too big to burn down.
They argued about the size until I took them into my office and showed them the building on my wall. They looked at each other, shrugged and left. I can only imagine the conversation in their truck on the way to get the demolition permit. That’s small town stuff and it was always nice to beat the City slickers once in awhile.
I recently read that if you are working from home, you should shower, shave and dress in business skirts or slacks every morning. Apparently, if you are too casual at home, this comes across in your phone conversations and e-mails. So what does this say about the people who have fought traffic for two hours. How does their voice come across the phone?
So from now on, If I’m going to write a serious column, I’ll put a suit on first so my readers will know I mean business. Next thing you know, I’ll have to watch how long I’m taking for coffee and lunch.
As for my commute now, some days I don’t even start the truck. Don’t leave it too long folks, turn that spare room into an office. At least that’s what McGregor says.