Adventures in Commuting

This originally appeared at

Take two college students, attending two different colleges, of which, one student holds a full time job at a third location. All three locations are several miles from each other and also several miles from the college students’ place of residence. Of the all the  locations the students need to find themselves on a daily basis, there is a scheduling conflict as to who needs to be where at what time, at least twice a week. Add to the formula one car, and you have the perfect recipe for what can easily be dubbed Adventures in Commuting.

That is the state of transportation bliss that Megan and I find ourselves in these days. My daughter used to have a car of her own. It was a 12 year old purple Neon that had been given the nickname “The Hotrod”. The Hotrod was one of those cars that usually had something really aggravating wrong with it, like a corroded battery wire, other wires deciding to quit working,  shocks and struts not performing, leaking fluids, brake issues, stuff getting stuck in tires and other issues ranging from the normal to the utterly aggravating.  ”The Hotrod “required itself to be in the shop for its annual $200 to $400 dollar checkup. It acted like it was going to shake itself apart if you took the speed over 6o MPH on the highway, bringing to light the irony of it’s nickname. On the plus side, it had less than 100,000 miles on the odometer.

This last time, the “annual, what the heck is wrong with the car this time” trip was sure to blow my miniscule budget, and would have utterly destroyed my daughters. The repair estimate reached close to the estimated worth of the car.  So we sold it so she could start saving for another car to get her through her last two semesters of college.
In the meantime we plan out our week around my work schedule, both our class schedules and any extra errands needing to be taken care of like doctor visits, and trips to the bank. As both of us are used to having complete access to a car whenever we wanted, it has been a bit of an adjustment having to share. Thankfully so far we’ve managed, asking my other daughter, Ashley to help, or in my case asking a co-worker on occasion to give me a lift to work. I have considered trying to use the bus on Fridays, but I just have yet to find myself in a situation where that is the only option. I suspect that a trip across town would take about 45 minutes on the bus, where in a car it takes about 15. So far a better way has always presented itself. If we end up replacing Megan’s car later instead of sooner, then I stand a fairly good chance of finally trying out Spartanburg’s Mass Transit system.

I thought back the other day about my parents and how they managed to transport six children around to all our various activities using only two cars. My dad always had one car at work, and so my mom was the chief transportation officer at our house. I know we all rode the bus to and from school, from first through 12th grades. I am fairly sure that carpooling with other students was a common occurrence as well. I do remember my first car, an oil leaking, mechanic’s dream come true in the form of a little Honda Civic. That car stayed in the shop more than out. When it was in working condition, my brothers often borrowed it for dates then returned it home with the gas gauge pointing to “fumes”. It finally blew out a head gasket and headed of too the junk heap. By then our family had acquired a couple of other cars, given to us by grandparents. They were ancient, but ran until something better could be afforded.

Somehow all of us managed to get where we needed to go and back home again often in time for supper. I don’t doubt that our mom was relieved when we started driving and she didn’t have to make the rounds to pick up kids (her own and often one or two extra), dry cleaning, whatever else needed to be taken care of while she was out running her own one woman mass transit system. She certainly appreciated having one of us go get some milk or a sibling when we were able.

Megan will find another little car soon, and we will return to more freedom when it comes to transportation. Our situation is hardly as crazy as it was for my parents when I was growing up, but I better appreciate the time and planning that it took to get us all to our varied destinations. I am enjoying mine and Megan’s commutes together. We get to spend time together that we otherwise wouldn’t, especially as both our schedules are rather full these days. As Megan is the last still at home, I am looking at this adventure in transportation as something to enjoy, even if it has some big inconveniences. We’ve even agreed on a commuting rule, whoever drives gets to pick the radio station.


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