Commuting is surely the most annoying middle-level frustration of conventional working life (a minor frustration being a badly-designed waste-paper basket; a major frustration being the act of having to be present in a particular place against your will for eight hours a day).

Does anybody actually like to commute? Whether you do it in a bus or a car or a train or a plane, chances are you probably find it completely infuriating or depressing. It’s a time sink, it’s a stress, it’s a lot to tolerate for practically no gain. Especially given the fact that the Internet exists and your office – ostensibly a desk, a computer, a telephone and a filing cabinet – is pretty much a replica of your own spare room.

I’m reading Help! – a paperback collection of Oliver Burkeman‘s Guardian columns about the crazy world of self-help – and enjoying it tremendously. There are far too many gems to share here, but I couldn’t resist posting this little thing about commuting:

People commute reluctantly … because they can’t afford to live closer to work – yet if they get rich, they’re liable to do it to an even greater degree, presumably because they think living in the countryside [or suburbs] will make them happier [but] it often doesn’t … People chronically underestimate the downsides of a long commute, while overestimating the upsides of (say) a bigger house.

The original article is online by the way.

It’s weird, isn’t it? That people continue to commute in this day and age. And so far at that. Escape it! Work from home, move within walking distance of the office, or just give up working altogether. And however you work, for goodness sake, resist the siren song of the suburbs with all of your might. There’s nothing there! It’s all pampas grass, conifer trees, middle-aged swingers, and white dog shit. Fact.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

One Response to “Commuting”

  1. Sasha says:

    At least a bicycle commute gives you fresh air and exercise.

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