Poll Position: Do you secretly enjoy having time to yourself while commuting?

In the aftermath of the T-SPLOST, I heard numerous theories about why the proposed tax went down in flames. I’ve offered my own, broad explanation for this result. But it does not necessarily exclude lots of sub-explanations — reasons some particular commuters might have had for voting against it. Here’s the most intriguing one I’ve heard:

Some people secretly like their time in the car, because it’s the only time they have to themselves all day.

Do you enjoy having "alone time" during your commute?

  • Are you kidding? Heck no! (67 Votes)
  • Yes, but don't tell my spouse (52 Votes)
  • I plead the Fifth (8 Votes)

Total Voters: 127

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Personally, I don’t subscribe to this idea. I don’t mind my commute because, nine days out of 10, it’s quick and easy. And on that one day out of 10, I’m not happy about the extended driving time. But a few people I know have admitted to enjoying their “me time” in their cars — time they can spend listening to their music, or a podcast, or sitting in relative silence, or whatever — and it made me curious whether this is a widespread sentiment.

Based on what I’ve heard from various people, I would guess this only applies to people who have medium-length commutes: say, more than 30 minutes each way but less than an hour. But hey, I didn’t think anyone thought this way, so maybe I’m wrong about that.

Or maybe this whole idea is off-base. What say you? Whether you’d admit it to your spouse, kids, co-workers or anyone else, do you secretly enjoy the time you spend commuting? (It’s OK; you can tell us. None of you use your real names, anyway!) That’s this week’s Poll Position question. Answer in the nearby poll and — if you dare, or if none of your loved ones know which character you play on this blog — in the comments thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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98 comments Add your comment

HR Pufnstuf

August 10th, 2012
10:30 am

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

August 10th, 2012
10:31 am

Probably some libs looking at porn on their PDAs.

JDW

August 10th, 2012
10:32 am

That one is easy…no…it’s a waste of time.

md

August 10th, 2012
10:32 am

Yes, but to a point. When the commute got to be 1-2 hours each morning, choices had to be made.

And they were……..my commute now is always under 20 mins and I didn’t have to move into the city.

HR Pufnstuf

August 10th, 2012
10:33 am

I keep telling my partner to stop listening to Hannity on the way home, he gets in the door and is always pissed off!

md

August 10th, 2012
10:35 am

“That one is easy…no…it’s a waste of time.”

Depends on what one does with it. It always does one good to take the time to reflect on oneself and one’s surroundings. I used to always have the music blaring and mindlessly ride along bouncing up and down……now, I use the time to think. As one ages, one has much more to think about…….immortality is no longer an option.

DagnyT

August 10th, 2012
10:41 am

My commute is 30-45 minutes each way. I listen to books on tape. It’s my only chance to “read” for pleasure. No complaints here.

Mike

August 10th, 2012
10:43 am

People enjoy driving. That’s why they make cars that are fun. But “driving” and “stuck in horrible traffic because someone on their cell phone hit someone applying makeup and all lanes are blocked” are two very different things.

I spend enough time at work not talking to anyone else, so I don’t really need the “decompression time” on my thirty-five minute commute. But the instructor for a Six-Sigma class I had talked about how shortening his commute time left him feeling weird when he got to work and when he got home, because something in his mind wasn’t ready to be there yet.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

August 10th, 2012
10:43 am

Probably some libs looking at porn on their PDAs.

Probably some Cons working on their budweiser.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

August 10th, 2012
10:44 am

When my commute was 2 hours I tried learning chinese. That was 10 years ago and I still remember some of it.

Tom

August 10th, 2012
10:50 am

“Probably some libs looking at porn on their PDAs.”

That’s funny, in that consumption of pornography is at a far higher rate on average in the conservative red states. http://consumerist.com/2009/03/which-state-consumes-the-most-online-porn.html

Taipei Personality

August 10th, 2012
10:51 am

Riding to work on a bus…mornings I get to sleep and afternoons I get to read. Probably what I’d be doing anyway, so its a wash. Oh, did I mention I never have to get frustrated with how slow the traffic is? Just more time to sleep or read!

Mr. Holmes

August 10th, 2012
10:55 am

I find ways to enjoy the time because what’s the alternative? Beat my head against the steering wheel? Just got an iPhone 4 and am loving the AudioBooks app and look forward to finding some podcasts to occupy the time.

But just because people have discovered coping mechanisms doesn’t mean they don’t want shorter commutes.

Taipei Personality

August 10th, 2012
10:57 am

Hypothetical question – Obama wants to help other industries the way he did the auto industry. So would he be willing to bail out the porn industry if they fall on tough times too? (Hypothetical of course – they are not hurting in today’s perverse society)

Mr. Holmes

August 10th, 2012
11:03 am

Also will add that in the one job I had right on the MARTA line, I very much enjoyed the commuting time–I’ve never burned through books so quickly in my life. When I had a daytime offsite appointment, I drove & paid for parking. The rest of the time I took advantage of the organization’s transit incentive and happily read while riding the train.

Just think how many people would do that if our transit system weren’t such an embarrassment for a major city.

They BOTH suck

August 10th, 2012
11:06 am

Tom @ 10:50

Consider the source. And that is better than 99.9% of what he usually posts

They BOTH suck

August 10th, 2012
11:08 am

Kyle

Work from home most days. Live in town, so when I have to go see clients, it is usually against the grain of traffic.

I turn on some right wing talk radio blather or some tunes and it is off to the races.

Skram30082

August 10th, 2012
11:13 am

Hey Kyle,

Just wondering…have you ever tried riding MARTA to work just once? I have a co-worker that drives from Sharpsburg to the College Park station, and then rides it to the Sandy Springs station (BTW, that station is within walking distance to the Cox building). He then catches a shuttle to Glenlake Parkway.

He’s been riding MARTA since our company moved here in 2004, and he reads a lot on MARTA.

Just wondered if you had ever tried it, if for nothing more than to get a first-hand experience on how good (or bad) MARTA can be.

Intown

August 10th, 2012
11:17 am

Sometimes its nice to be alone in the car … listening to NPR! Other times, I just want to get somehwere in the 20 minutes it’s supposed to take instead of a freakin’ hour.

jd

August 10th, 2012
11:18 am

You can have time to yourself when you are not responsible for controlling 1-1.5 tons of vehicle that threatens my safety. Now, if you were on a train, with headphones, what u do is your business!

Just saying..

August 10th, 2012
11:18 am

Not a secret anymore…

Don't Tread

August 10th, 2012
11:23 am

We need option #4: “In a carpool” (and therefore have no “alone” time).

bo

August 10th, 2012
11:25 am

another question: would you rather have personal time walking in the woods, jogging through the neighborhood, or drinking coffee over a newspaper? Somehow, caught in traffic with people jockeying for position, obnoxious billboards and flashing signs over head, and a barren landscape of half empty strip malls parking lots doesn’t sound slike such great personal time to me.

Kyle Wingfield

August 10th, 2012
11:28 am

Skram30082: I took it every day for about four months when we first moved to our new offices. I finally stopped because, if I ever was even a minute late getting to Lindbergh and missed the northbound red train, I had to wait 15 minutes or more for the next train. On most days, I could drive from there to work in that amount of time — and be at the office about the time the next train was arriving at Lindbergh.

That, plus the fact there were enough days I needed to go somewhere besides the office that wasn’t on a MARTA line, meaning I had to drive, that there wasn’t a cost savings from having a monthly MARTA pass. So I wasn’t saving time or money on the whole, and I started driving full-time.

Road Scholar

August 10th, 2012
11:33 am

When I worked full time, I observed some focus group sessions concerning managed lanes and the transit operations associated with them.Most express bus users interviewed expressed their benefits : reading, sleeping, listen to music, down time, not strangling the steering wheel, being at peace when they arrived home, using their computers, etc. Other than listening to music or audio books, driving does not allow for much down time. This is evidenced by people constantly changing lanes, cutting off others at a ramp, etc. One man said that once he used the bus, his wife stated that he was actually “human” when he got home. Previously, she told him to go to another room and download, so she and their children didn’t have to hear him complain.

Now, not all people get upset in traffic, but I think if they have an appointment they are late for, they can’t be feeling good! I would take an alternate route with trees and grass (no Interstates if they were clogged) and the change of scenery was great…until the surface streets became too clogged! It usually took less time than sitting, sitting, inching, sitting…you get my point!

It didn’t pass because of people’s paranoia about folks ripping off the system (they elected them), capitalists (road builders, consultants, material suppliers, and businesses) actually making money, allegedly corrupt GDOT workers (no proof presented), and the big one….they voted for their wallets (selfishness or against change)! I agree a better way was to adjust the gas tax to inflation, but that didn’t solve the issue for hybrids or electric cars, or address transit.

Let the whining begin, esp now that schools are going back in session, and about the increasing price of gas w/o benefit of transportation solutions!

Road Scholar

August 10th, 2012
11:36 am

Kyle, you don’t telework? Why not?

ragnar danneskjold

August 10th, 2012
11:37 am

Over my career, my commuting times have ranged from 2 minutes to 90 minutes, and averaged around 20. I do require 20 minutes at the start of the day to organize my day, and a commute facilitates that planning. All things considered, however, the 2 minute commute was by far the best. A lengthy commute time is not something to seek; rather it is making lemonade out of the lemons.

MrLiberty

August 10th, 2012
11:38 am

I had a wonderful carpool partner who unfortunately lost her house to foreclosure and moved far closer to work to a rental. While coordinating with another is a challenge, the gas money savings and the company were certainly nice.

Tragically there are so many government rules, regulations, laws, penalties, etc. that prevent entrepreneurs from being able to even run a 1 car shuttle service for folks to get them to work and utilize the extra space in their car, etc. Don’t believe me, just try taking someone to work and charging them without begging for permission from the government.

The solution to our traffic problems has always been to eliminate all government intervention into the marketplace, and that includes road construction and maintenance. Zoning regulations, the conspiracy between local county commissions and developers and between state legislators and big business have all worked over the decades to turn this city into something that benefitted a small handful while negatively impacting everyone else. Had the market been allowed to work the way it was supposed to (rather than the crony capitalism we witness everyday), Altanta would look completely different and likely the natural comingling of businesses, homes, shopping, roadways, etc. would have worked itself out in a positive manner. Instead the failure of central planning is on display and yet everyone still turns to the central planners for more and more solutions. Haven’t we all been injured enough by this fallacy?

Rage of the Law-Abiding Commuter

August 10th, 2012
11:41 am

With all the small-minded clowns playing with their (so-called) “smart” phones instead of actually driving or paying attention to the road, having any respect for their fellow commuters or using a turn signal… EVER, all while sporting an ultra-tacky ‘0bama 2012′ sticker on the back of their cars as they weave from one lane to another with impunity….

NO, I am NOT able to enjoy my commute or the time alone.

Kyle Wingfield

August 10th, 2012
11:41 am

Road @ 11:36: My 3.5-year-old doesn’t grasp the concept of Daddy being at home but not available to play with him. I can get away with it for short periods of time, say one morning or afternoon every now and then, but not full-time.

Rage of the Law-Abiding Commuter

August 10th, 2012
11:43 am

By the way, 0bama Sux, and the overwhelming majority of his Atlanta-area legions of brain-dead followers re-demonstrate to us daily, during both the morning and afternoon rush-hour commutes, that they do NOT know how to drive.

Mr. Holmes

August 10th, 2012
11:46 am

My god. I am in full agreement with a post by one ragnar danneskjold. It must be snowing in the hot place.

Rage of the Law-Abiding Commuter

August 10th, 2012
11:50 am

On a positive note, however, I would like to commend both the Georgia State Patrol and the Sandy Springs Police Department for their task force in recent weeks that I have personally witnessed pull over numerous cars with the ‘0bama 2012′ stickers who cut in front of every other car on the GA 400 access ramps from I-285 by driving across the solid-lines, median & “No-Car Zones” while those law enforcement officials wait for them and point at them to pull over.

Several of the ones I’ve witnessed personally during my commutes each day were indeed talking to their phones, and perhaps praising 0bama’s name, when they broke those traffic laws.

Bravo, GSP and SSPD !

Rage of the Law-Abiding Commuter

August 10th, 2012
11:52 am

Sorry, Haters, but there is no Affirmative-Action Lane for you in Atlanta’s rush-hour traffic.

You’ll just have to wait each of your turns like the rest of us

jconservative

August 10th, 2012
12:00 pm

Retired.

I highly recommend it.

Hillbilly D

August 10th, 2012
12:01 pm

The less time I can spend around humans, the better I like it. Tha’s why I live where I live.

Class of '98

August 10th, 2012
12:03 pm

GREAT topic, Kyle. My answer… up to 40 minutes, absolutely. Anything over that bugs me.

I don’t mind driving as long as I am MOVING. And there is a special part of hell reserved for the people who drive all the way to the front of the traffic jam in the empty lane and then put on their blinker to be let in at the last minute.

There is an even hotter part of hell reserved for those who LET THEM IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Road Scholar

August 10th, 2012
12:09 pm

Rage, the worst drivers in Atlanta are from Cobb (Cobbakazis) , Gwinnett (Gwinettians), and Forsyth ( just plan old rednecks!). The last time I looked, these were all republican bastions ! This analysis is from driving in Atlanta and the state for 40 years.

And you should change your name from Rage to either Hate or just plain Stupid!

They BOTH suck

August 10th, 2012
12:11 pm

Road

Did you catch the irony? He cried about Democrats for three posts then called them “haters”.

I’m sure it went over his head. But if it pumped up his self esteem and made him feel better about himself, what the heck.

Class of '98

August 10th, 2012
12:12 pm

“all while sporting an ultra-tacky ‘0bama 2012′ sticker”…. I don’t know about you, but I see about 5% the number of ‘Obama 2012′ stickers as I saw ‘Obama 2008′ four years ago. It’s not even close. Where’d they all go?

Class of '98

August 10th, 2012
12:15 pm

Road, calling us “Cobbakazis” is haaaaaaaateful. I prefer “East Cobb Snob”, thank you very much.

Taipei Personality

August 10th, 2012
12:22 pm

Cobb, Gwinnett, Forsyth…hmmm, all counties that have had an influx of Yankees! Therein lies the problem, they bring the northern driving habits with them. The state was no less conservative 30 years ago (even though D rather than R) but the drivers were more civil. Traffic was worse though – I remember 85 being just 3 lanes each way, and down to 2 between 75 and Druid Hills!

Rage of the Law-Abiding Commuter

August 10th, 2012
12:24 pm

“Drivers” (a term I use loosely in this instance) of vehicles sporting ‘0bama 2012′ decals HATE the police for holding them ACCOUNTABLE for their own law-breaking actions, a foreign concept to many of them.

Hence, they are what we law-abiding commuters call, when they start thumping their chests at the GSP and SSPD with self-righteous indignation, finger wagging or simply fuming with blind rage inside their pulled-over-for-breaking-the-law-cars, “HATERS.”

Hate!
Hate!
Hate!

//////////////////

Thanks for playing, “They BOTH suck” @ 12:11 pm.

Class of '98

August 10th, 2012
12:27 pm

Rage… the irony won’t set in on him that he called people from Forsyth “plain old rednecks” and in the next sentence said YOU should change your name to “Hate”.

Road Scholar

August 10th, 2012
12:34 pm

Tapei: I remember my first day in Atlanta in 1974- I was standing at the corner of Spring St and North Ave starting to cross the street when the light changed and I jumped back up on the curb/sidewalk. Spring street was two lanes in each direction back then and there was at least one car in each lane. The driver closest to me waived me out to the crossing while he had a green light. I was startled that ALL 4 CARS waiting in those lanes stayed stopped as I walked across Spring Street! Those were the days when the Big city of Atlanta (800,000 people) was still a small town with manners!

Now it is NASCAR or even worse! NASCAR has fewer wrecks! People lack manners and patience, but from reading the blogs now, those were days in the past!

98: when you drive, you are Cobbakazis. Other wise, you are just East Cobb Snobs (your words) hiding behind your steering wheels!

Dusty

August 10th, 2012
12:35 pm

Now I know why there are so many wrecks on Atlanta expressways. “Enjoy having a little time to yourself” with ten thousand motorists all fighting for the first chance to move ahead!! Such a good time to read a book or chant Chinese or something.

I didn’t take a driving course for nothing!! Keep your mind on your DRIVING or else!! I surely do. Just get me between two tractor trailers pulling their wobbly two-freight car additions and I am quite interested in what they are doing ( and sometimes saying a little prayer)..And I 75 gives me a death wish for delivery somewhere else. A St. Christopher medal would even quiver.

Have you seen any cheap “tank” cars anywhere?

Skram30082

August 10th, 2012
12:36 pm

Kyle,

If you’re that close to work, I can see why you wouldn’t use MARTA. For my coworker, it’s a no-brainer. For a few weeks after we moved to Sandy Springs, he drove from Sharpsburg to Sandy Springs every day. And as you know, the afternoon drive is the worst. By using MARTA, he’s cut his driving by 50%, and because we telework 2 days per week, he’s cut it another 40%.

The biggest benefit? He’s in a MUCH BETTER mood when he gets to the office.

Hillbilly D

August 10th, 2012
12:39 pm

the irony won’t set in on him that he called people from Forsyth “plain old rednecks” and in the next sentence said YOU should change your name to “Hate”.

Funny how that works. Besides, Forsyth County has been overrun with transplants for 25 or 30 years. Half the people who live there now can’t even properly pronounce it.

Skram30082

August 10th, 2012
12:41 pm

@Rage

The drivers that annoy me the most are the ones with their religious bumper stickers or vanity plates or their fish emblems. I see them weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, running red lights and cutting people off.

Of course, there are just as many w/o those, but they seem to annoy me the most.

As if God forgives them for driving like that on a daily basis.

Pizza

August 10th, 2012
12:45 pm

( Except for yesterday morning. ) I read on MARTA. A civilized commute. Wish I could ride further.