So if you haven’t already noticed my subtle hints in previous posts…I commute to my job. Every weekday I wake up at 6am, leave my house by ten to 7, park at the train station, sleep on the hour long ride, subway up to my office and walk a few blocks. Adding it all up it takes me about two hours… each way. In honor of the fact that I have been commuting for the last four months I thought I would sum up all the lessons I have learned along the way.
- Read the signs – Word to the wise, the first and last cars of the train are the quiet cars. Business men and women take the quiet car very seriously. Do not even think about talking on your cellphone or whispering to the person next to you, unless you want serious glares in return. However, if you want a quiet space to unwind after a long day, try and score one of those coveted spots.
- Download the app – No joke, downloading the NJ transit app has been a total LIFESAVER. It has all the the train times, stops, and any advisory notices listed and the app is updated instantly.
- Layers, layers, layers – It may be 5 degrees outside, but the train is likely pretty toasty, especially in winter. Be prepared and wear lots of layers! I cannot stress this tip enough.
- Hats & Sunglasses – Those early morning train rides are pretty tough, but bringing along a hat or sunglasses makes it much easier to relax and even get a little extra sleep. I have even seen other passengers bring eye masks to block out those bright train car lights.
- Make the most of your time – The best thing about commuting by train is you don’t have to focus on the travel as you would when you commute by car. You can read, sleep, answer emails, and countless other things. If you use this time to your benefit, commuting will go by that much faster!
- Avoid smelly foods/heavy perfumes etc. – Don’t be that person who dosed themselves in gallons of perfume Monday morning. The same goes for exceptionally strong smelling food. Adding strong smells to an already crowded train makes for a miserable commute. Try to be cognizant of others and spray sparingly and choose foods that won’t bother others.
- Kindness above all else – Just like in life, kill others with kindness. Move into the seat closest to the window when you see someone looking for an empty space (your purse does not need its own seat!). Allowing others to get out of their seats and off the train first if they are closer to the exit is just common courtesy. If someone asks you what train this is, or what stops it makes, tell them! Try to remember that commuting is tough for everyone, so try to always be kind to those around you.
- There is always another train/bus etc. – During my winter internship at a magazine a few years ago I got out of work an hour early. I was so excited that I rushed through the train station and jumped on a train. I quickly realized that it was the wrong train. Long story short I ended up going an hour in the opposite direction of my house (even though I got off at the first stop! Silly express train) and got home at the same time I normally would have when I left the office at the usual time. Lesson? There is always another train arriving shortly (especially during rush hour) so take your time and don’t get on the wrong train!!
- Sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity – One night I was racing to catch my train and I ended up running down an up escalator in order to make it. Although it was quite an interesting and slightly frustrating trek to the platform, I had to just stop and laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.
- Commuting is a badge of honor – Above all else, commuting is exhausting. At any age those long train rides can be killer when added into an even longer work day. I have so much respect for the parents that commute all week and wake up early on the weekends to spend time with their families. Remember that commuting is not easy for anyone, so try to keep a positive attitude, it makes everything so much better.
I hope these lessons from my months of commuting come in handy on your different adventures on public transportation!