The reluctant commuter

by Steve

Commuters in London with umbrellasI do enjoy my job. However, I periodically fantasise about working from home. These thoughts usually occur about five seconds before I have to get out of bed in the morning, or five seconds after my train is cancelled after a long day at work.

The problem is not so much about the reality of having to work. Short of a huge lottery win I’m going to have to work, no matter what.

I’m generally more productive on the rare occasions I’m able to work at home, beavering away whilst sitting in my underwear. However, I guess being in the office (wearing a whole lot more than just my pants, you’ll be pleased to hear, dear reader) does at least ensure I get my daily allowance of human contact and all that. And working in complete isolation probably isn’t sensible or practical for me, at least in my current role.

The commute is certainly a pain. It seems like living and working in London means an hour’s commute no matter where you’re starting or ending your journey. So, right away, 10 hours  a week (non-paid, obviously) are lost. Admittedly, when I can use that hour to read, or listen to some music, or whatever, it isn’t so bad. It probably helps me wind down at the end of the day and transition from working life to home life. But I’d still prefer to have those 10 hours back to use as I see fit.

Commuting can also be stressful. This week London has received a coded bomb threat from Irish dissidents, as the Queen makes her first official visit to Ireland. So, vigilance is the keyword. I guess any of us living in a major city are always at risk of getting caught up in a terrorist attack. It could happen at any time, and I’m sure plot after plot is foiled without us even knowing.

But specific threats such as these do sharpen the focus. Terrorism will always be a threat, from whatever extremist quarter. The ‘war on terrorism’, in its broadest sense, will probably never be won. And we should always be mindful of that.

I think London has a pretty strong constitution when it comes to stomaching such risks. The Blitz, the IRA attacks in the 70s, 80s and 90s, the 7/7 attacks, these are all woven into the city’s DNA. It is used to being a target, but it is also used to coping. It is used to carrying on.

That is pretty reassuring. Such threats are scary and unsettling. Yet, at least from my experience, everyone seems very calm and collected about it, and getting on with day-to-day life. We are not succumbing to the ‘terror’ part of ‘terrorism’.

But, right now, I still think I’d rather be at home. I don’t want to let the terrorists ‘win’, but I do want to be safe. It is a strange sensation.

Image from flatworldsedge, via Flickr