I have always been intrigued by people who choose long or complicated commutes to work. When I lived in France I commuted on a packed urban train for what should have been 45 minutes but door to door was more like 90+, including time spent waiting at cold and over-crowed metro platforms. It was a battlefield to force myself onto the train and I am surprised I didn’t lose a limb to the doors, fighting the masses to climb aboard the first train home. Getting onto the train was in itself a success; getting a seat would have been some kind of miracle. Although us Europeans have perfected the art of eye-avoidance or looking through our neighbour so we don’t have to engage in conversation, it was still easy to spot the exhaustion on most travellers faces. I decided then and there that I would not be one of those people who commuted every day for 40 years; so, within weeks, I moved to a comfortable 5 minute walk from my office.
Living in Canada, public transport is generally much less efficient than in much of Western Europe and it is much more common to commute by car. Major cities have reasonable bus services but smaller towns might only have one or two routes with fairly infrequent schedules. Winnipeg buses were not bad but the weather was so unbearable that before I could lose toes to the cold, I lost patience in waiting. I have therefore become accustomed to relying on my car and actually quite enjoy commuting in my comfortable climate-controlled vehicle along the empty roads I travel these days. My life is so different from just a few years ago that I don’t even feel like the same person… and just when I didn’t think I could get any further from my old mentality of inner-city living, I have found myself joining the ranks of those who use an unorthodox method of travel to work.
Starting today my commute to work involves crossing the ocean on a boat! I have just started working at a small elementary school in Alert Bay (or ‘Yalis in the Kwak’wala langauge) on Comorant Island. Only last week I watched a series called ‘Islands of Britain’ showing people in the British Isles using helicopters, ferries, private power boats and in some cases even private jets to commute to and from mainland Britain to their island homes. I thought it absurd that anybody would live an ocean away from their job, yet here I am hopping on a ferry to work and feeling pretty chuffed about it!