Monday, 10 December 2012

The commute

I should really be used to it by now. Complaining about it for the first couple of weeks seemed permissable, but now, 4.5 months in, I shouldn't really still be complaining about my daily commute.

But I do. Every. single. day. Don't get me wrong, I don't complain about it out loud, I don't talk about it with other people, but every morning, as I pull open the door to go outside I quite dramatically let out the biggest sigh known to man before beginning my daily trudge.

There are 2 things that people say when they find out that I walk 5.5 miles each day as part of my commute;

1) "What the fuck? Isn't there a bus you can get?"

Prompting me to bite my tongue and not say, "Oh my god I totally hadn't thought of that, I just do this shit for funsies."

2) At least you're getting lots of exercise.

This just makes me internally sigh again. Indeed it is exercise. It is exercise so thorough that I can no longer face doing what I really want to do for exercise, which is run. It is exercise which has thoroughly fucked up the trainers that I would be running in because they were kind of old to begin with and now I've walked something like 490 miles since I started my job they are well and truly knackered. It is exercise which has fucked up my back from carrying an ill-advised shoulder bag across my front each day. This is not the kind of exercise you want to do.

The only way I feel I can get through my commute is to split it into Parts - Three of them each way...

Part 1 & 6 - from The Docks to Preston Station 

Part 1 isn't that bad. Apart from the fact that I'm going to start another day in the hellhole I can mostly get through it by focusing on something else and making my brain focus on whatever podcast I'm listening to.

There's always a brief moment when my hopes get raised and my breath quickens slightly. This is at the prospect that I might see Jesus, my cat friend who lives on Christchurch Street, but he's rarely there and that means that the excitement is followed by a double whammy of disappoinment - no Jesus and I now have the walk up the mega hill that is that street.

I have a process for getting up it now. I count my strides and I'm not allowed to slow the pace - the strides can be smaller but the timing must remain the same. It means I'm a dab hand at walking up that hill now, extra incentive is added if I have someone to try and over-take. I try not to think about the parallels that could be drawn between walking up the hill and my feelings about the day ahead.

The return journey, also known as Part 6, is a doddle. It's the home stretch and it never ever feels like it takes that long. It always passes quickly and I'm happy to bob along until I get home. There's no resentment for Part 6, it means the end. It helps that I get to bounce down Christchurch Street after the daily trudge of going up it. I play Beat the Bus which helps me to feel smug about walking - if it passes me anywhere after the Ford garage I have officially beaten it, meaning that walking home hasn't really taken any longer which is a win in my books.

Part 2 & Part 5: The train

The best bit about my commute is the train. I get to Preston train station and walk up the stairs, my hand automatically reaching into my bag to pull out my pass to show to the staff at the top of the footbridge. For some reason they're the only people that I recognise after my 4.5 months of commuting. I should recognise people on Platform 2, I can't be the only person commuting, but for some reason I never see a familiar face.

It's only a 12 minute journey but I savour every moment of it. Each minute costs me 19p and I want to make sure that 19p counts for something so as soon as I'm sat down, the earphones are removed, the book comes out and I bury myself for the entirety of the journey. It is bliss, but is so shortlived and when I feel the train slowing to come in to Buckshaw Parkway my resentment levels start to rise, exacerbated when the train finally stops and the doors open to a sea of blank faces who crowd around the door even though common sense must tell them that until they let me off the train, they cannot come aboard.

The return journey, Part 5 of the commute, is almost the part that I don't think about that much. The train is always delayed, and I mean always. I officially started keeping track of it 1 month ago and in that 1 month the train has been on time...never. Actually never. The delay might only be 5-10 minutes, but when you're coming home (and you still have Part 6 of your commute to do) it is difficult to keep the sighing to a minimum.

I'm faced with the same blank sea of faceless morons when we come into Preston. Crowding round the doorway leaving no space for you to get off, only these people are now angry "I want to get home" commuters, rather than tired "I hate going into work" commuters.

I should be used to the stairs to the footbridge - which aren't quite high enough to comfortably walk up but aren't shallow enough to allow you to take two at a time - but I still haven't found a way of walking up them comfortably. I weave in and out of the people at the top of the bridge, fumbling around for their passes. I already have mine in my hand and again I wonder why I don't recognise any of the people, maybe I'm just too focused on starting Part 6 of the commute?

Part 3 & Part 4 - Buckshaw Parkway to work

Hell. These Parts are hell. Always. Every single day. Even though it's roughly the same distance as Parts 1 & 6 and doesn't take any longer, it drags. I feel like I'm walking and not getting any closer. When it's Part 3 it sucks because I'm tired of the commute now and yet I know I have 8 hours in the hellhole ahead of me. When it's Part 4 it sucks because it's just the beginning of yet another long commute home when all I want is to be at home already.

There is no more to say. It's just awful, the worst parts of my day.


But in 4 more days I will do it no more and I can't tell you how that makes my heart sing.


I know I'm not the only one that has to walk a lot each day. I know I'm not the only one that spends 2.5 hours of each day commuting. But this commute is my own personal hell and like some kind of feverish Groundhog day it has been haunting me for too long.


  1. Just four more days to go. I'm sorry it's so hellish for you, though.

  2. Oh god that reminds me of a commute I had to a similarly crappy (tho not quite AS crappy) call centre job in Newcastle: walk, bus, metro, long walk then nine hours of hell before reversing the process. Miserable. Not long now though :) :)

  3. I'll be glad for you when it is over too. Long commutes mega suck! If I can avoid them in the future I shall! xxx


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