Going the Distance
By DAVID COLBERT
Every day we are either going, coming, or both. Sometimes we can’t tell which. Most of us travel somewhere to create an income. When we arrive, one common topic we share over our start-of-work beverage of choice is our commute.
In 2014, according to the latest available statistics, over 12,700 of us in Daviess County commuted to work each day in our cars, trucks, or vans. Around 18 percent of us carpooled, which is nearly twice the Indiana average. We’re fortunate to have several large employers in the area that make carpooling an attractive option. But most of us traveled alone and our average commuting time was just under 23 minutes.
My commute to our magazine office is 10-12 minutes. When I work at a collaboration space in Evansville it is 75 minutes. But most days I am a well-below-average commuter. That tells me that we have among us many who cover a lot more ground as they come and go. I’ve wondered where and why. Here are some of the answers I’ve found.
Clint A. traveled from his home on Troy Road south of Washington to the Gibson power station for several years. The trip took from 55-90 minutes, depending on conditions and who might be carpooling with him. Brian W. traveled daily from Washington to a coal operation near Santa Claus, Indiana until recently. Now his commute is to Princeton, still nearly an hour. Paul D. of Washington drove to and from the Alcoa plant in Newburgh each day for more than 20 years. Kevin M. makes the 45-minute trip from Odon to Jasper each day for his job.
For five years Eric W. commuted to Oakland City from Washington, a 30-minute trip. He recently moved to Evansville, which is roughly the same distance in the opposite direction, saving about five minutes each way.
Of course, these are people going from Point A to Point B and back. Let’s not forget people in sales who often have four-wheeled offices. Salespeople are the bees of commerce, constantly moving about and making possible an exchange of goods and services. Without them, there is no buzz in business.
Richard C. and his family came to northern Daviess County in November to be closer to his daughter and her family. Grandchildren are magnets, you know. Richard represents a large food service company and has taken over a sizable territory that is completely new to him. Each week he drives 350-425 miles to meet people and serve businesses.
Let’s not forget agribusiness, either. Jeff J. doesn’t travel every day, but when he does he goes longer than a downfield receiver. Anything within eight hours is fair game for four wheels as far as he’s concerned.
Please don’t imagine only males commute. That’s not true at all. In my experience, intelligent women have laudable caution about discussing their driving habits with strange men in coffee shops (excellent research facilities, I might add). If it were my wife or daughter, I’d counsel the same caution.
So, driving. We’re all doing it. How much is too much? There must be a point, a distance beyond which a daily drive becomes untenable, but it seems different for everybody. For those who decide not to move closer to their places of employment, what keeps them rooted at home?
Not surprisingly, the answers vary. For some, the cost of transplanting is too great. We need to find a safe place to be and we are reluctant to be parted from our stuff, but nothing moves for free. It takes time and effort–our own or somebody else’s–at the very least. If it’s not a six-pack and a pizza, we engage a professional mover and crew to make sure our stuff goes where we go. Small wonder moving ranks among the greatest stressors we’ll encounter.
Another response is that we may feel it unfair to disrupt our children’s lives, leaving friends and starting over at new schools. Some of us are separated from our families by circumstances and divide our time with our children. We’d rather be near and available, even it means a long drive each day. Others of us are committed to caring for family members or sharing the work on a family farm. Home is a powerful idea. It can be difficult to replace in our hearts.
People who weren’t born here still decide to make Daviess County home. When I asked why, they told me the people are nice here. Also, it’s central for them. It’s a good environment for their kids. It’s less expensive than other options. If you’re reading this you’re probably a part of the reason folks from out of town find this area so agreeable. Thank you.
So we rise, we yawn, we stretch, and we scurry. At least on weekdays. The story doesn’t end here. I invite you to find Striving for Success on Facebook and share what your daily travels look like. Let’s see who gets bragging rights for road time.