Once upon a time I used to think less of those people who considered a long commute to work a deal breaker when considering a job offer. My main requirements to accept a job were money and title. If I felt that I could either do the job or learn it and the money was good and the title glamorous enough then the deal was done – the job was mine. That was true until I accepted a job that was a 1-hour drive (each way) in heavy traffic from my home. The first 6 months of my job I was over the moon. I got a significantly higher salary than at my previous job, my package came with a car and an office all to myself. Life was good. I would drive to and from work with music blasting in my car – I was loving every minute of it.
My bubble burst when I attended an informational evening for one of the local MBA programs. There I found out that on average students spend 10 hours a week on course work, per class. Although I did not enrol in an MBA program (I’ll write about that in my next post) that number came too close for comfort. It became obvious to me that by sitting in traffic, I was in essence wasting 10 hours of my week (480 hours a year). Before then I had no real use for those 10 hours so I was quite happy to sit in my car and use the time to psych myself up for my day and unwind after work. But as soon as I found a better use for my time, I began to feel that I was incurring an opportunity cost. When that happened, I started to dread my daily drive. However, not being one to stay stuck for too long, I started to listen to educational CDs in my car (I confess, I was a late adopter of MP3 technology – now I’m addicted to pod casts!). Feeling that I was not wasting away as much in my car, certainly helped me cope with the commute, but it did not make the feeling go away entirely.
When I resigned from that job after 18 months I can’t say that it was because of the commute, but it was certainly one of the things that helped tip the scale. From that experience onwards, a short commute has become one of my top 10 must haves in a job. It comes close to working with like-minded people, in a industry I believe in, in a role where I can contribute to society, in a company that takes the environment into account – and a nice pay package.
Does that make me a loser? If that’s what you think, well, at least I’m not a time waster.