A billboard near the Lincoln Tunnel says that the average New York City commute takes about 38 minutes.
For the first time in my freelancing career, I am commuting several days a week from my home in northern New Jersey to the east side of Manhattan, about 32 miles away. On a good day — say, a Sunday morning with perfect weather, a full tank of gas, and a venti dark roast — I could drive it in about 45 minutes. But the first time I drove it, during the morning rush on a Monday? Two hours, door-to-door.
Taking the train also takes two hours, if you factor in the drive to the station, the transfer from one (comfy with plenty of seats) train to another (“nuts to butts”) in Newark, being herded up an escalator to the street, and a brisk walk across town while dodging other commuters and homeless people with cats on leashes. And the bus takes just as long.
As a result, I can spend upwards of four hours a day just trying to get into and out of New York City. As one gentleman so eloquently stated while pacing with purpose in Penn Station, “F–k, f–kity, f–k, f–k, f–kity, f–k.”
Now that my blisters have healed, and I’ve learned to commute in sneakers, this work-at-home mom feels compelled to pay tribute to the commuters, to the people who do this every single work day, during the morning rush and the evening one, too.
To the Commuters:
You, with the briefcase and proper outerwear, no matter the weather.
You, wedged against the train window to avoid the drip, drip, drip of rain onto the leather seat next to you.
You, thanking the bus driver, even though that’s his job.
You, entertaining the toddler seated next to you so her mom can chill out for a few nanoseconds in a dark tunnel below the river.
You, standing in a moving vehicle, surfing each lurching start and screeching halt with ease.
You, wordlessly alternating access in an orderly fashion toward the packed escalator.
You, balancing an umbrella in one hand and a Starbucks cup in the other while dodging puddles, taxis, and homeless people with cats on leashes.
You, victorious in snagging the last seat on the earlier train or bus home.
You, getting up to do it all again the next day.
You are the chariot drivers of our day, the schleppers, the worker bees. You make this economy work, and you are to be commended. May you have good weather and a place to sit. May you have speedy travels without delay. May you have someone say something nice to you today. May your ride go smoothly and easily, no matter how long it takes to get there and back today.