In 2009 I lost my job on Wall Street.
(I assume you know me well enough, but I’ll remind you anyway: Wall Street, not WALL STREET.)
Wall Street is at the bottom of Manhattan, and I lived way up at the top where cabbies think you’re trying to trick them into going to the Bronx. Three days a week, I rode my folding bike twelve miles downtown, folded it up, hoisted it up onto a shoulder (it was a Dahon Matrix; at the time, I didn’t get small wheels) and carried it into the building. And then—I was cheery. I rolled with idiocy. Crisis? No crisis. Problem? No sweat. After solving everybody’s problems in the whole world, I rode twelve miles back home, where I was also cheery, and nice to my family. Then the recession came and I lost the job. Well, sort of. I got insulted by a poorly handled pay cut and took my desk fan and walked out.
And very soon was not cheery, and did not roll with idiocy, and was not nice to my family.
I know people do lunch rides, but I just won’t, ever. There are probably reasons for this. I don’t know what they are. But thing was, I had found the secret magic that got me riding: my commute. It took the same time as the train, and—the real thing—it didn’t have to be wedged into my day between other things. I didn’t have to find time to ride; my hour of exercise was simultaneous with the hour I couldn’t avoid spending on transporting my person to work anyway.
So I got my 24 miles and my cheeriness and it didn’t displace a single other part of my life. Sunlight glittered. Angels hummed Count Basie.
Then recession and a new business—which meant working from home! I can go climb Fort George Hill at lunchtime! I thought, and I’ll be surprised if I do that even once!
It’s not that far to Fort George Hill:
It’s just that for those unknown reasons, I won’t.
The solution didn’t come for I don’t know, a year of complaining how I missed my commute. But here it is. Somebody’s going to read this and look surprised and go DUH! out loud and wonder why neither of us thought of this sooner, and buy a new pannier and change their whole life.
Here’s what you do.
You get a pannier that carries a laptop. (I have an Arkel Bug.)
You get a laptop suited to your work that fits in the pannier. (I have a MacBook Pro 17″. I didn’t buy it until I took the Arkel Bug to Tekserve and had the guy put the computer in it and made sure the zipper would close.)
You find a Starbucks twelve miles away. It doesn’t have to be a Starbucks, but you get where I’m going here.
That’s it. That’s your commute. Mount up on your Xootr Swift (because now you do get small wheels) and ride there in the morning and work.
Then when you’re done, ride back home and don’t be all cranky and resentful because Congress. Be cheery and harmonious because leaves and sunshine and roots and railroad ties on the South County Rail Trail.
Or, you know. Distant caravans silhouetted along the Nile. Whatever they have in your neighborhood.
If you do it, would you tell me? Obvious as it is, it’s still one of the better things I ever thought of, so I’d like to know.