Monday, September 4, 2023

I had no idea how great a short work commute would be

Until the outbreak of COVID in March 2020, I maintained a daily schedule much like that of millions of other Americans. Five mornings a week, I would get in the car and drive to my workplace. For a full decade of my professional life, that drive was a considerable one  at least by Northeast Ohio standards  of 30+ miles each way.

For more than a year, I drove a few days a week down to Akron, a distance of more than 40 miles.

There are some advantages to a longer commute, as I enumerated in a blog post  in 2015, but for the most part, it was a big hassle. It gets tedious, you're constantly having to fill your car with gas, oil changes become more frequent, there's always construction, accidents and other traffic snarls, and on and on.

Then, in June 2022, I accepted an offer to join Materion Corporation, a global company based in the nearby city of Mayfield Heights. Let's set aside the fact that, professionally speaking, it couldn't have worked out better. I love the team members with whom I get to collaborate, and the work itself is interesting and challenging.

From a purely logistical point of view, this change has been a godsend. My commute to work, which I make three days a week, is rarely longer than about 15 minutes and involves no highway driving at all. On light traffic days when the stoplights cooperate, I can get there in 13 minutes.

The days I broke 45 minutes to Akron always felt like a win. And 40 minutes was pretty much the norm for the 1,000 or so times I drove to the Vitamix corporate headquarters on Cleveland's southwest side over my eight-year tenure there.

Being so close to home makes it much, much easier for me to get to my various sports PA announcing engagements. It means far fewer times when I need to bring a change of clothes to work and run out of the office at 5:30 to drive straight to a field or gym.

On the other end of the day, not having to leave the house until 7:30am is...well, I know it's an overused word, but I can confidently say it's amazing. Life-changing, even.

An extra half-hour may not sound like much, but it allows me to do everything I've wanted to do in the mornings for many years but couldn't squeeze in without having to wake up every day at 4:30am.

Again, I'm not saying long commutes are all bad. I don't get to listen to the same number of podcasts that I used to, and it's harder for me to feed my classical music habit unless I'm very deliberate about carving out dedicated time for it.

But on balance, for me, short commutes win hands down. I had no clue what I was missing.

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