Learned Helplessness

A colleague, C, visits from Bristol and his drive usually gets him thinking about my daily commute: 15 minute walk, 42 minute train ride, 25 minute bus ride. About an hour and a half, door to door I say if anyone ever asks. The train is £252 a month and the bus approximately £400 a year. £3500 after tax and £5000 gross C. mentions over his shoulder as he leaves the meeting room. A lot of money, I think, maybe commuting doesn’t make immediate sense?

What part of the process that costs me so much, would I currently give up to save that amount each year, I wonder and I know that it wouldn’t be the job. I like analysis and my colleagues, they even saved me a home made chocolate fudge brownie whilst I was away on the days surrounding the weekend. The bus ride probably wouldn’t be missed although the daily chats with fellow commuters and the ride past the Gloucestershire Echo make it a not unpleasant way to start the morning.

My morning walks, shuffles, half runs, full-out sprints on the way to the station are my usual soundtrack to the day and I couldn’t do without the Gaga, Thomas Dybdhal or the Kings of Convenience (Hey baby, what is love?) while passing Queen Square and St Mary Redcliffe church.

The train ride is the most expensive part but it’s 80 minutes of time just for me. When Dashi was open I would start my day with a vanilla soy latte and a book or a newspaper (or both). There was 80 minutes of ethnography and 80 minutes of shorthand. There was Under the Dome by Stephen King, The Girl Who Played With Fire, the two Davids writing about the Myth of the Liberal Media and recently Twilight and Nutrition for Marathon Training.

I wouldn’t change my job and I couldn’t leave Bristol. £5000 for all this? The diary entries and the chats with fellow commuters, one who has made the journey for the last 19 years.

‘Did I tell you I finally moved’ I attempt to change the subject as we walk along the corridor.
‘Are you still living with your ex-boyfriend?’ he asks
‘Yes’ I reply, ‘seven years’ I answer to his next question. ‘It’s fine, we’re fine’.
‘You know that there’s a danger you’ll meet other people who may want to move in and then it will all fall apart’ he says. ‘You should really write about it. What would you call this kind of arrangement?’…

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