Commuter Beware!

By Robert Goldman

June 22, 2017 5 min read

Dude, I apologize.

I've been so busy helping you find ways to survive your terrible job that I have ignored your terrible commute to your terrible job.

And commuting these days can be terrible.

"Delays and commuter complaints are mounting on many of the country's largest transit systems," writes Sue Shellenbarger, Work and Family columnist in The Wall Street Journal, and the author of "Rise Above Your Awful Commute."

According to Shellenbarger, we should not expect our public transportation systems to get better any time soon. I agree. $90 billion in mass transit repairs are overdue nationwide, reports the Federal Transit Administration. Those billions may arrive, but I think it's more likely that we will be mired in our dysfunctional transit system until Elon Musk starts selling Tesla Transporters.

Well, they worked on "Star Trek."

If we really can't fix ancient trains, overcrowded subways, bombed-out highways and collapsing bridges, we will simply have to stop commuting. Or, as Shellenbarger suggests, we will have to fix ourselves.

This won't be easy, either. Take accounting manager Matt Hopkins, who "battled claustrophobia while commuting to his job in Manhattan by reading books on his e-reader — if he can find a seat. If not, he dons earbuds, closes his eyes and immerses himself in podcasts or a meditation app on his phone."

This distraction strategy may work when you get to work, but I'm afraid it will take more than earbuds and "calming music" to lift you above a stinking, stalled subway car filled with sweaty PO'd passengers. I recommend taking your e-reader, plus twin Dudley Matterhorn speakers with a Hellion 24D subwoffer on the subway car with you. Put on your favorite Motorhead CD and crank it up to 11. If the music doesn't distract you, the other passengers will do the job as they pummel you until you reach your station.

Another tip for a successful commute is "to lower tensions in crowds." Shellenbarger suggests you "wear light, comfortable clothes and shoes and carry water." Or, as I recommend, skip the clothes and the water and do all your commuting in a bathing suit.

True, you may not yet have achieved your perfect beach body, and yes, it could be snowing outside, but the sight of you in your Speedo, busily slathering yourself with sun tan lotion, is sure to lower tensions. It is also sure to result in a call to the transit police, but that's not all bad. If they arrest you for indecent exposure, you'll have a perfect excuse for not coming into work.

Even when you finally arrive at your destination, a rough commute can have repercussions. According to Kathleen Vohs, a marketing professor at the University of Minnesota, being stressed in transit can slop over into your work environment. "Employees whose self-control has been depleted by mental strain," she says, "are less likely to take initiative on the job."

Now, we understand why you never initiate anything, ever. It's not that you're a born slacker; you're mentally stressed by your difficult commute. Explain that to your managers during your next job review. They should get a good laugh out of it.

A proven technique to "shake off" the effect of a bad commute on your work is not to go to work at all. Not immediately, anyway. Instead of going from the frustrating freeway to your frustrating job, the experts recommend you "immerse yourself in a setting with plants or natural scenes, such as a park, atrium or room with a nature mural or photos."

This is a lovely idea, especially when you combine it with other end-of-the-road strategies. "Take a walk around the block before settling in at your desk," or "engage in a calming ritual such as shopping for a latte at a friendly coffee shop."

I think this will work for you, with some slight changes. When you arrive at your destination, and before you go into work, take a calming walk around the block to the Kit Kat Klub, where you will be surrounded by a totally naturally setting of greasy walls, greasy bar stools and greasy patrons. What better place to engage in the charming ritual of shopping for a shot or six of Flamin' Hot Cheeto-infused vodka from a friendly bartender?

Repeat until you are calm, but be sure to stop before you are catatonic. The goal of the final leg of your daily commute is to get into your office before you pass out.

Dude, you owe it to your employer.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com. To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com

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