I’m subjecting myself to a lab-rat-like experiment by commuting to Seattle. When I was job hunting, I purposely avoided applying for jobs in the big city, since there were enough on the Eastside to choose from. I don’t consider myself a city person, at all. This job I took was slated to be in Seattle for one more month before switching to the Bothell campus.

So, I figured this would be an interesting experiment. The outcome would be to confirm or deny that I indeed dislike Seattle, and don’t like commuting there, working there or being there, pretty much at all. 🙂

You can’t say you don’t like something if you’ve never tried it, right? I think I actually hate it, and that I knew I’d hate it. But I try to reserve the word hate for things that I really do hate; and I’m trying to keep an open mind. Some people think working and/or living in Seattle is super cool, so my quest is to try to discover for myself why this is.

One month isn’t long, I told myself. And indeed last week, at the tail end of three weeks into the experiment, I was thinking, I’m exhausted, but surviving, and just one more week to get through. A small part of me thought, a month is really too short to get the full flavor of the experience; there are lots of things I haven’t done, like ride the bus, eat at most of the restaurants here, or learn to run errands in this part of town to fully know the convenience part of city life. But, be careful what you wish for. Because on Thursday we got a terse email announcing that for various reasons I won’t cite here, we’re not going to move to Bothell until the end of May. Gaaack!

I nearly had a meltdown (well, Kirk might tell you that I did have a meltdown). I think it’s the culmination of many things. Being a new employee, there’s all that stuff your brain is trying to cram in. An you are socially “on your toes” all the time because you are forging a lot of new relationships. For an off-the-charts introvert on the MBTI test, this is tiring! Driving in stop-and-go traffic and the chaos of downtown is stressful, boring, and frustrating as well. Then there was Kitchen Lamb, who was mostly good, but sometimes would beller in the middle of the night and wake me up.

I really need eight or nine hours of sleep to be fully functional; unfortunately, I’m not one of those people who can get by on six and be at my best. I really need my brain on my job. I’ve been allowing about an hour in the morning to let poultry out, check on animals, wash eggs, tidy the Kitchen Lamb’s quarters, make an espresso, and get myself out the door. The total commute is consuming about 2.5-3.5 hours per day. I need to work eight hours, and sometimes take a lunch break with peers. So, I’m typically away from home twelve hours. I need nine for sleep, and that leaves two hours left after work to finish farm chores, eat dinner, and live the rest of my life. Of course this isn’t enough, and sleep is the first thing to be sacrificed. So, it’s no wonder I was feeling exhausted and driven to tantrum. I haven’t been this tired since college. My commute to Bothell, by comparison, will render 9-10 hour days, and that extra hour or two a day, minus commute stress, seems to make all the difference in quality of life. At least to me.

So, this week, I am trying the bus. The bus is not a great option. There are only three runs in the morning, and four in the evening, to choose from. It means I have to get up a lot earlier than I prefer, putting my schedule out of synch with Kirk’s (he works later in the morning, to avoid rush hour altogether). The bus ride length is the same as it would take me to drive in, so when I allow time for getting to and from the bus stops, and waiting for the bus, it’ll actually lengthen my day. I normally get car sick if I read while riding, but I figured I’d see if it’s also true on a bus. This new experiment is: if I can get my email/computer time done on the bus, or sleep a little, and remove the stress of driving, maybe it’ll be a net gain.

Today wasn’t bad. Company-provided bus pass worked, I got on the right bus, got off at the right stop, no disasters so far. The bus was crowded, nearly full, and the seating arrangement doesn’t leave adequate room to comfortably open a laptop screen to the right angle. I managed to work on my laptop anyway, got some blogging done, and only got a little woozy. Unfortunately, there is no WiFi on this bus route, so offline work is all I can do, that is a big, big drawback. The walk to work is seven blocks or so, which is pleasant when the weather is good, and it was OK today. But I imagine that tromping to work in sideways rain wearing slacks and dress shoes, getting to my desk wet, is going to be less than ideal. So chalk that up as another serious drawback. I have a quality backpack designed for laptop carrying, but still, by the end of the seven blocks, my mind was wandering to my back aching and musing what all is in that pack that I didn’t need to bring today?

Here’s a cost analysis for my commute:

66.4 miles round trip @ $.50/mile + $50/month company-subsidized parking garage access

= $35.70/day in effective cost to commute here, or about nine grand annually. Wow!

Bus fare: $9/day or $162/month =$8.10/day, two grand a year

25 days left of this commute, knock on wood that upper management doesn’t change their minds again. It’s making me wonder, how much vacation time am I accruing again? 1.67 days/month. Probably not enough to lighten the load, but maybe I should be scheming my first day off already. My heart goes out to people who do this grind, or a worse one, long term. I don’t know how you have kids, hobbies, a decent diet, a clean house, or anything else when your days are as long as this, unless you don’t need much sleep. I’ll try to reserve judgment a little longer. But, still, I’m pretty sure, I hate this. 😀