How to Deal with a Long Commute and Make It Better

By: T. Glen Coughlin

I have heard of tougher commutes than mine. There was this one nut in my office that drove into Manhattan from Albany. And, I know there are places in the world where the traffic moves even slower. I’ve taken four trips to Bangkok and witnessed a ten-mile back-up on their main boulevard that never cleared out from Monday to Friday. It was a solid wall of cars and motorbikes from dawn to midnight and beyond. I actually abandoned a three-wheeled Tut-Tut after sitting in the same place for forty minutes. Against State Department advisories, I rode on the back of a scooter (without a helmet) as my Thai driver cut across sidewalks and up alley ways hung with wash and dried fish. I lived. I didn’t do it again.

My commute to Manhattan was 44.5 miles from South Central New Jersey to Chelsea. For my job, I needed a car so most days I drove. In the early days, the commute was a worm eating my brain. I’d curse out Howard Stern when he went to commercial. I’d make sure no one passed me and drove 20 miles-per-hour above the speed limit. On the NJ Turnpike I’d play hide and seek with the State Troopers as I ducked in and out of the commuter lane.

The traffic jams were many. The Pulaski Skyway was like running the gauntlet. You either made it in one shot, clear sailing or were stuck for hours behind some broken down piece of shit with bald tires. The Turnpike extension, exiting at 14 into the city, that was a daily mass of disrespecting, car and truck, cutting off masters of impatient drivers. And then, when I could see the NY skyline in the clouds, I faced a barrier greater than the North Wall in Game of Thrones, i.e. The Holland Tunnel:  twelve lanes funneling into two tight lanes with no shoulders. Everyday was a minimum wait of 25 to 45 minutes of inching forward, lurching into impossibly tight spots until you descended into the white-tiled world under the Hudson.

Leaving the city, oh that was more fun, if you call fun stuck behind a diesel spewing truck. I took the Lincoln Tunnel out of the city. It should have been an easy dive. Head straight up 10thAvenue and make a left into the tunnel at 34thStreet. But guess what was being built, the Hudson Yards. Twenty years of misery with 10thAvenue closed down to two lanes. Traffic backed up for five miles. I could go on and tell you about the closed down lanes of the Turnpike or my struggle with the red lights on Route 9 in Middlesex County. I won’t. You got the picture. My 44.5 miles was a 4 hour round trip.

So, how did I make it better?  First, I made sure I was comfortable.  I purchased a...

Massage & Heat Car Seat Cushion - Check it on Amazon

Next I found audio books. They actually saved me from commuter hell. I began with non-fiction and worked my way to fiction. I’d actually look forward to getting on the road and getting into a story. I once missed my exit on the way home and didn’t realize it for five miles. I went to parties and could talk up a novel. I was suddenly relevant. Sure, I still became antsy, but my hated commute became bearable. I’d go to the library and check-out six audio books a week. If I didn’t like the story or narrator by the first disk, I’d go to another book.

Here is a list of some of my favorites - Audiobook Suggestions for 2019 from Author T Glen Coughlin

T Glen Coughlin is the author of 3 published fiction novels. See his wikipedia page here.


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