Wednesday morning, I drive to my former employer. I need no maps as I remember the on-ramps, merges, and highway exits from six years of commuting.
In an hour at the office, I say hello to my former work colleagues. Although some have moved on like I did, the remaining faces and laboratory still look the same. People ask about the outside world, my travels, and my future plans.
I’m happy to see those with whom I worked so many years, but I have lost interest in the projects. Leaving work wasn’t just the moment of driving away but a long process of disconnecting.
After lunch and a long hike in the hills with Alex, I drive back to San Francisco. The digital highway sign on the on-ramp in Redwood City reads: 72 min SF. I sit in traffic for over an hour, much like I did almost every day after work just to get home.
I’m grateful for the long slog home as it reminds me how much of my life I lost to commuting, an amount that can be quantified and valued. If I get hired by this San Francisco company, I will trade a 1-hour car commute for a 15-minute bike ride. I’ll turn a 50-hour work week into 42.5-hour work week. My San Francisco salary is effectively 18% higher than in Menlo Park, so I would be pleased with 85% locally of what I was once earning further away.
Commuting is not only time intensive but also expensive. Train tickets cost me $12.50 each day, $62.50 each week, and $3,125 each year. Driving may cost this much or more.
I should adjust prospective San Francisco salaries up by 18% plus $3,125 to reflect properly the pain of commuting.