Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The short Commute

On Friday, my husband popped his head into my office and said, “Are you going to take off early today?”
It took me a second or two to get my mind out of the story I was writing. I turned around and faced the doorway, more than a little annoyed. (Has he not been listening to my Jack Nicholson-like rant in ‘The Shining?’ “When I’m in here typing, I’m working!”)
“What are you talking about?”
He smiled, “Aren’t you going to take off early and try to beat the storm?”
I smiled back. My husband just reminded me of one of the very best things about being a writer who works from home.
No traffic. No rush hours, no worrying about winter weather and unless I trip on a dog walking from the bedroom to my office, no accidents.
Coincidentally, a friendly waitress at my favorite sushi bar got me to thinking about this a couple of nights before. When she found out I worked from home, she touted the benefits of not having to drive to or from work.
I didn’t have to walk 10 miles in the snow as our parents told us they did trekking to school each morning, but back in the dark ages of my corporate days (and when I say dark, I mean that quite literally), I was on my usual 30-minute drive to work when, in the downtown loop, I became preoccupied with a small plane coming in for a landing at the downtown airport.
“He’s flying awfully low,” I thought just before I looked back to the traffic suddenly stopped. I slammed on my breaks and swerved to the shoulder. By the time I came to a stop, I was looking at the person who was directly in front of me (and now beside me) through her driver’s side window. We both breathed a sigh of relief and she smiled and shook her head and did the “Whew” thing with her hand. Commuters are either very friendly and understanding or the road rage type.
Or the morning I suddenly stopped with traffic, but it was the guy behind me who was preoccupied with something. A traffic cop who happened to be sitting in a nearby parking lot, clocked him doing 40 mph when he slammed into the back of my 1988 Chevy Blazer and pushed me into the car stopped in front of me. I only suffered whiplash and a few cuts and bruises, but was badly shaken. I drove my Blazer away from the scene. An hour later, I walked into a national conference at the company for which I worked to give a presentation to managers who flew in that morning from all over the country. The other two cars were totaled and towed away and I still have back problems from that wreck to this day.
Or the morning an axle on my Blazer suddenly broke, leaving me to fight for control over the vehicle while going 70 mph. I did get it to the side of the highway safely, but it was a harrowing few minutes for me - and I’m sure for everyone around me who realized I had lost control.
And who could forget all of those days just like we had on Friday? Knowing snow and sometimes ice was bearing down on the city and dreading the commute to or from work. Oy.
These days, I avoid early morning or late afternoon meetings and interviews if possible. When a winter storm approaches, we stock up on food and necessities and I hunker down in the house for a few days – I haven’t left the house yet.
My short commute is another reason it is great to be a writer.


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