I have for you today, ladies and gentlemen, somewhat of a surprise. While on a bit of an information scavenger hunt the other day, I came across the Carroll County Commuter, a blog I started several years ago while riding the MARC train and the DC Metro to work. There are some similarities to the recent transportation-related posts related to my book UNDERCURRENT, so I thought, why not? So below is what I believe to be the first blog post I ever wrote, back on 26 October 2008. Enjoy the flashback!
Getting There is Half the Battle
For most people, certainly for me, working is absolutely necessary. And if you work in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, your trip to work will be shared with many thousands of other people. If there’s one thing we have in this area, it’s commuters. A number of studies and reports have been published, and statistics abound. But suffice it to say, the typical commute in the corridor is anything but typical. A 2006 study listed Baltimore and Washington in fifth and sixth place in the top ten places with the longest commutes. Near enough, both cities’ commutes average at around thirty minutes. But as with all averages, some get to work very quickly, and no doubt brag to their coworkers about it. Still others come into the city from far away zip codes.
My typical trip to work takes me through four telephone area codes. When I discuss my weekend with my coworkers, they have no idea where I’ve been, they know none of the landmarks, and when I discuss the train stations and highways I’ve used, they’re dumbfounded. This is a first for me, because usually when I get to work, the people I work with also live somewhere near our place of employment. In the case of my job in Arlington, most people live a good distance away. It is fairly common for my fellow workers to travel at least an hour to work, some take 90 minutes, and a few like me, travel two hours to work.
That’s the price we pay for homes we can more reasonably afford out in the suburbs of the suburbs. An enormous amount of information exists on commuting into Washington D.C., and you don’t really need more of that to wade through. For those of us more in the Baltimore area who commute to D.C., there is much less information to guide us. If you live in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, you probably have a few options for public transportation. The MARC trains and Amtrak run through the area quite a lot, and many people live a short drive away from the outer stations of the Washington Metro system. But in Carroll County, there are not many options for getting to work that don’t involve driving to someplace where transportation is more plentiful. But, if you must commute, perhaps you can find a way to make it a little more entertaining.
Carroll County is still very rural. In the early morning, it is still very dark, and streetlights aren’t as noticeable as in other parts of the state. So driving to work can be a bit about dodging the obstacles. For some reason, joggers like to wear black running outfits and black hats to keep them warm. And the deer seem to wait until just the right moment, when your headlights illuminate their path, so they know where and when to run. So many cross my path on one road that I wish the county would move the deer crossing somewhere else. It’s just too dangerous. The county has invested in “Walk/Don’t Walk” signs for most of the big intersections around, but we have almost no sidewalks, and fewer pedestrians. We practically have to drive everywhere. But we do have a couple of walkers too. We have the “Guy Who Waves at Everyone” and the “Floppy Hat Guy,” who seem to cover a huge amount of ground even though they aren’t in their cars. Can we learn a little something from these fit and trim gentlemen?
So for now, I must be content with my thirty-minute drive to get to the other ninety minutes of my commute. I would use public transportation if it were available, even buses, but alas, I must rely on my truck and a healthy dose of unleaded. At least I have several hundred songs on the MP3 player and a place to put my coffee cup. Well, see you on the return trip!