As I enter Week 6 of remote working — while also being the teacher, the cook, and the referee — I find myself on calls somehow every single day exactly at 8 AM and 5 PM. I am particularly cranky in these moments as I continually switch between looking down at my watch and up at the screen and then back at my watch again.
Suddenly, I find myself closing my eyes and imagining... The sweet scent of a Starbucks grande chai latte. The familiar aroma of my faded car air freshener. The smell of a half-eaten banana tossed onto the passenger seat…
Yes, I miss my commute.
Like so many of us, I have missed many parts of my daily routine. I miss saying bye to my kids as they head off to school (I really miss this.) I miss going to the cafeteria at my office to grab a cup of soup. I miss tea time with my colleagues. I miss picking up bananas from the grocery store, I miss talking to neighbors, and I miss spontaneously going out to dinner with the family on a school night.
But of all of the daily things I missed, I never thought I would miss my commute.
That same commute that I complained, cried, grunted, and groaned about for seven years. The 17-mile stretch that on a bad day of traffic could take over 90 minutes one way. Yes, that very same commute. I miss it oh so much.
Because I don't have my commute anymore. On any given day, I eat a banana while getting the kids to finally change out of their pajamas. And then I officially start the morning tag-teaming with my husband on Zoom circle time, art history class, and "class meetings." I go from my desk to the kitchen table to the couch back to the desk, and back to the kitchen table.
I take some quick breaks for caffeine and devour a not-so-appetizing sandwich for lunch. And then I end calls anywhere between 6 and 7:30 PM only to head straight into the kitchen as I wrangle my kids and get my husband off one of his many calls. To find something, anything to eat for dinner.
Then we go to bed and start all over again.
And I miss my commute.
I miss avoiding that really big pothole on Washington Street. I miss that red light that never seemed to turn green on River Road. I miss my Starbucks stop. I miss my heated seat. I miss Dua Lipa, Maroon 5, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift and the other cast of characters accompanying me on 75 minutes (up to 90 minutes) commute each way. I miss stopping for McDonald's drive-thru (soft-serve ice cream of course) on my way home on those days that work just really, really sucked.
I don't, however, miss the pedestrians that would dart onto the street from out of nowhere. Presenting me with the middle finger, and then shouting (which I couldn't hear, too busy listening to Adam Levine.) As they continued texting and walking while wandering in front of yet another crosswalk.
So please don't call me during "my commute." I need my commute time back. I am taking my commute time back.
In fact, I'll be blocking my calendar now for the commute time. I will boldly label it on Outlook as "Commute Time." Not for the whole 90 minutes each way. Which ironically seems like a luxury now.
I'll book "Commute Time" daily from 8:30 to 9:00 AM and then again from 5:30 to 6 PM. The exact time it takes me to change into new or out of old pajamas after a quick shower. Just in time to break up another shoving and kicking match between the kids, and ready to look in the fridge desperately hoping that a magical fairy came and just happened to make our dinner.
I can't wait to go back to my commute. The potholes, the construction, the drivers cutting me off, and devouring my McDonald's soft-serve ice cream as I'm Adam Levine serenades me. And most of all, I can't wait to sit in front of that red light again that takes so long to turn green. This time, I won't mind waiting.
I'll be sitting there toasting in my heated seat, smiling. Smiling big.
WRITTEN BYMita Mallick