How I Made My Commute Work For Me
I live in Southern California and I do not own or drive a car.
I’ll wait a couple seconds for that to sink in. Again, I’ll remind you, it’s Southern California we’re talking about here. For those of you still standing, I would like to present my first defense for public transportation by saying that I chose the public transit life; the public transit life did not choose me.
I grew up in the Midwest and have had a car since I was sixteen. When I moved out to San Diego and found a way to solely use public transportation, I jumped at the chance. Call me crazy—which many did, and still do—but I’ve found that it works for me in more ways than one.
Initially, when I found out the length of my commute from my apartment to the office, I thought it was going to be a real schlep. It meant waking up earlier than my already early waking hour and putting myself at the mercy of undetermined departure times that only the travel gods can set.
I read up on several blog posts and articles all instructing me to pass the time with music, podcasts, books and answering work emails. You mean I have to work before I get to work? But I took the advice, and each day I put in my headphones, powered up my laptop and answered some last-minute work emails. This kept me occupied and passed the time, but I didn’t realize the gold mine that was around me—that would lead to how I spent most of my time on the train.
I am a firm believer in early morning interaction, and the talks on my train ride prepared me for my work day.
I am a creature of routine and habit (most days). I take the 6:41 a.m. train to Solana Beach and sit in the exact same cart in the exact same seat every single day. It just so happens that about 10 other professionals are creatures of habit, too, and sit in the exact same seats every day.
At first, it was all very casual. The “good morning” and “coffee, am I right?” remarks began each conversation in the beginning. I would build onto the conversations each day to eventually turn my morning train ride into my own networking event. Soon, everyone knew my story and I knew his or hers. How they got to where they are from where they were and what they value most out of their careers.
I know this sounds like a lot for a 6:00 a.m. commute, but trust me when I say that the casual environment of the train provided no pressure. Not to mention, I had 30 minutes to myself with them. I am a firm believer in early morning interaction, and the talks on my train ride prepared me for my work day.
I now travel the opposite direction to work—from downtown San Diego to Solana Beach—which adds about 15 minutes to my train ride. It’s hard to tell if I will be as lucky to stumble upon another great networking opportunity with my new route, but I’ll just wait and see.I’ll leave my headphones in my bag just in case.