Monday, May 12, 2008

Trending towards that driving thing

Yes, believe it or not, we are still taking public transportation to work. There are alot of reasons for it but the main one being, the Budman and I have been so busy we have not gotten our rears in gear to decide on and order a car. That is all changing now.

However, I digress.

What does public transport really mean for an American in London? For the Budman, it is a door-to-door commute of about 45 minutes: a 7-10 minute walk to the tube, a 25-30 minute direct District line tube ride into central London, and a 7-10 minute walk from the tube to the office. If you catch a train after 7 am on a weekday morning, you have lost a seat on the train. Literally, "you snooze, you lose". So, our mornings begin at 5:30 am, with us both shutting the front door behind us at about 6:30 am each morning. Key point: there is no car in the Budman's future as he will not be driving into London - he will be a commuter regardless.

For the Hachie Gal, this is slightly more complex. No direct train will take me to my office, but rather, it usually involves the same minute walk on the front end, 2 +/- tube trains (usually a train change enroute to Heathrow Central Bus Station), a bus ride from Heathrow to the office, and a 5 minute walk to the office. Depending on the morning, train and bus schedules, this can be anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours. One minute here or there can literally cost me 30 minutes as I scamper up the steps to the closing doors of the tube train or race to the bus stop only to see the tail lights of the bus I need.

Add to the mix, particularly rainy days, heavy computer bags, and a dirty subway system and you have the visualization. Don't get me wrong, the tube is an amazing transportation system; let's just say ALOT of people use it and it is suffering a bit from this overcrowding. We've also been told to enjoy the smells of sweaty people on the tube in London summers. Well..OK...looking forward to that.

How does a Texas gal go from driving or better yet, working from home, to working in an office in which she has to commute to on public transportation. When I tallied it up, I have not had my primary work location in a company office in over 5 years. Truth be told, I have not driven really in over 6 years on a regular basis. It is just that those old habits die hard. Working from home suits me well, allows me the freedom to multi-task during the day (i.e. receive packages at the door, do laundry, and eliminate the commute). My company actually benefits from me working from home because they get longer working days from me - not saying that is a good thing from a work-life balance perspective.

The good news is that the car IS in the Hachie Gal's future. The vehicle has been officially ordered and will arrive in 11 weeks, on or about July 7th. The bad news is that the car will arrive in 11 weeks , on or about July 7th. There is none of this "let's pick out a car, buy it, and drive it off the lot". That concept does not fly in Europe. We will have an interim solution, however, a temporary lease car to carry us over until our new car arrives.

Which brings me to the next point. We have the loaner car but I was not quite confident enough to venture out onto London streets and drive a car with the steering column on the "wrong" side...all in rush hour traffic as I learn the highways to take to the office. Sensory overload. So, for one more week, I will be a public commuter until I have a couple of trial drives to/from the office.

And for those of you who thought you would never need to use that parallel parking skill (the one we all dreaded on our US driver's test)...welcome to my world. I will need it now.

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