About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

Being an extreme commuter takes drive

The U.S. Census Bureau defines extreme commuters as people age 16 years and over who travel 90 minutes or more each way to work. For almost 10 years, my one-way commute was 79 miles and 90 minutes on the nose. I had three radio presets programmed to NPR stations: Duluth/Superior, St. Paul, and western Wisconsin.

New York ranks first in the Extreme Commuter Nation with 5.2% of its workers having a one-way commute of 90 minutes or more. Next comes New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland, and California. Minnesota shows up 46th in the rankings. Which explains why I received so many incredulous reactions from Minnesotans when I described my commute from northern Pine County to Chisago County.

Before my husband Mike and I closed on our five-acre farm, I made sure I had the okay from my supervisor about working from home a couple of days a week. That’s how I learned my optimum hours for creativity are from 4:30 to 8:30 a.m. At 4:30 Mike and our 13-year-old son Wyatt are still asleep. The only other souls up, it seems, are a couple of early-bird roosters warming up in the front yard, and the crew on a freight train that’s chugging through nearby Kerrick.

Once that prime slice of time passes, I move on to task-oriented projects such as revising and reviewing. The simple act of stepping outside to throw corn to the chickens can result in an idea that never would have occurred at the computer. By the end of the day, an eight-hour workday has stretched into a 10-hour day, and often longer. If I were queen of the world, every workplace would have its own onsite hobby farm.

In 2003 3.4 million Americans had a daily extreme commute, according to the U.S. Census American Community Survey. With the 2010 Census approaching, it will be interesting to see if the number of extreme commuters changes. There are fewer jobs today than in 2003, but I suspect more people who are willing to drive far: people whose partners can't relocate from their own jobs, people who don't want to disrupt their kids' school year with a move. 

It’s never great news to learn that your job has been eliminated during a recession, or after a recession, depending on your point of view. But whatever curves are thrown my way, I dig deep and look for the positive. And despite the fact I never minded my commute – it was something I did without thinking about it – I was extremely glad I no longer had to do it.

Are you an extreme commuter? What has your experience been like? What makes it work for you? Share your experiences below.


1 comment:

  1. Since I wrote this post I’ve talked to several other extreme commuters, as well as people who bypass the extreme commute through virtual officing. Here are just two groups on LinkedIn. Any others?
    Virtual Collaboration Learning Group
    Virtual Business: Virtual Marketing and Lead Generation Strategies for Your Business Group


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