mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

wake up every morning and hop on the express, yellow line Q headed for a job with a desk...

I've been going to work for years, but the last week or so is the first time I've had a real commute.

In the past, I've had commutes, but I've always been going the opposite direction of everyone else, or I worked nights and drove at a different time as everyone else.

That changed. I moved to the suburbs a couple months ago, and now I'm driving from the White Marsh area to Baltimore City. It wasn't too bad during the summer, but now that school's started, it's gotten a lot less fun.

Part of this is because I work at a college, and come September, something annoying happens - a bunch of students come back and take up all the good parking spaces. And since the college will no longer recogize my truck as a "service vehicle", I actually have to park on the street, which means I need to get there early enough to get a spot. There is more traffic earlier, plus there is more traffic now that there are school busses and parents dropping kids off, so now my commute is longer. When I lived in the city and was driving against traffic, I could be at work in 12 minutes. During the summer, I could make it in 35. Now, it takes me an hour to get from my door to my cube.

I don't mind driving. But I hate sitting in traffic. It's frustrating because I'm sitting there, burning gas and using up the time that I have on this earth (which is already rather short thanks to my love of deep-fried cheese) sitting in my truck. It's annoying because I know that if it wasn't for the timing, i'd be there so much faster. When I drive back from the gym, or make the trip on a weekend, it takes me 20 minutes. But at rush hour, it takes me an hour- 3x as long. It's depressing, and makes me wish for more flexible work hours. (I've tried to convince my boss that he should let me come in early, which not only would probably involve less traffic but would also let me park closer to work on a nearby street, but he won't let me. I'm not sure why - I figure I can do nothing as well from 7:30 to 4 as from 8:30 to 5)(note to anyone in a management position at my organization reading this- that was a joke.)

I've been trying to find a faster way to get to work, but they all seem to take me about the same amount of time - I can shave off a minute here or there, or be on a longer but emptier road instead of a shorter, busier one that takes the same amount of time, but there is no secret way of getting there that takes half the time. This is pretty much what David Freidman talks about in his book Hidden Order. He pointed out that economics suggests that things will always go to their most efficient use - and that's why whatever traffic lane you are in is the busiest - because people keep switching lanes until there is equillibrium. The same happens with routes. I'm not the only person trying to find a new one, and they all pretty much wind up going into equillibrium.

Which means that I'll be spending lots of time in my truck, waiting.


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