Adrienne BoettingerFriday,5 July 2013

The Snap

Want to really depress the hell out of yourself? Sit down and figure out how much of your life you spend traveling to and from work. Go ahead, I’ll wait…Okay, so odds are if you live and/or work in a major metropolitan area, your commute is sucking the life from your very veins. Don’t believe me? I got science to back me up.

The Download

Earlier this week I did the math and confirmed that I’ve been wasting my life away. Through careful estimations of my average commute times over the past 10 years of working in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, I discovered I have conservatively spent 4,990 hours in my car driving to and from work. That works out to about 208 days that I will never, ever get back.

I’d rather work more hours overall and spend less on my commute and I’m not alone. Studies have shown that people with 12 hour days and short commutes have healthier life habits than the poor bastards that work 10 hour days and commute 2 hours round-trip. It makes total sense to me – days with hellish commutes usually find me picking up a highly caloric Chipotle burrito, drinking my dinner and/or spending copious amounts of time unwinding on the couch re-watching episodes of The West Wing.

People with longer commutes are fatter, sleep and exercise less, and are more prone to divorce, according to a crapload of studies. My own personal studies reveal that people with longer commutes are more prone to giving double-fisted fingers (where you steer with your knees so you can flip off your fellow drivers with both middle fingers), chain smoke, scream at random strangers and dream about driving over your fellow commuters with a tank.

So why the hell do we do it? That answer seems to vary. Sometimes it’s because we love where we work and where we live and aren’t willing to give either up. However, it more often seems to be the result of not being able to afford to live anywhere near where you work and/or not being able to find jobs with living wages near where you actually live. If misery loves company, we’re far from alone as the rest of the world also seems to be moving toward craptastic commutes. It’s difficult to compare commute times, but South Africa appears to have some of the worse commutes in the world.

What’s the answer? Telecommuting? More affordable housing? Better mass transit options? All of the above? Screw it, I want one of those flying cars from The Jetsons that we were all supposed to have by the beginning of this millennium.


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Hat Tips:

CNNForbesThe EconomistThe Atlantic WireLive ScienceSlateThe AtlanticTech Crunch, Image Credit: Flickr


  1. […] started sporting bumper stickers that said “Choose Civility.” I first saw one when trying to flip off the car next to me with both hands. I was horrified to see myself in the rearview mirror; how enraged I was at someone who tried to […]

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