Commuting to work is just like a full time job - Argus Friday 22nd July 2016

Posted Thursday 28th July 2016   By Ericka Waller

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” according to Samuel Johnson. I say, ‘When a man, (or a woman) is tired of getting to London, he or she is tired of life’. My commuter friends have shared some shocking stories and photos with me. A local lawyer said “I had a horrific experience, all the usual cancellations and overcrowded trains, but the scary bit was the mob trying to board the train as we were trying to disembark. There was no crowd control. I was scared I was going to be crushed by the sheer force and volume of people pushing.”

My friend Liza explained “Us who work in London, made a difficult choice to do this daily grind based on a rough calculation of losing 4 hours of our day there and back, not good but bearable. We accepted that, so our children could grow up the sea. We didn’t bank on that turning into an average of 30 hours a week just travelling. Pretty much a full time job, for which we have to pay them. I get home so late, I hardly have a family life anymore.”

My commuting husband said “The constant changing of service and platforms is becoming crazy, I've seen a guy in a wheelchair moved on and off 4 trains and platforms by willing staff only to find the actual train too overcrowded to get on.”

Brighton Web developers were so fed up, they developed the online game ‘Southern Rail Tycoon’. The game involves stopping guards from boarding trains, which leads to services being cancelled as profits are collected from passengers. When the game is over, links appear to the Southern Rail compensation page and twitter account.

Developer Tom Jackson said: "We all were planning to go to London a month ago and trains were delayed, then delayed, then delayed and then eventually cancelled.

"We were so frustrated by the whole thing that we've stopped using the trains.”

I can’t help but wonder why, in this day and age, with smart phones being so clever, we still need to physically ‘go to work’. When it’s taking you five hours to get to a one-hour meeting, it’s time to think of a new game plan.

Sharing information online has become an intrinsic part of our work philosophy. With free applications such DropBox, Skype, Wattsapp and LinkedIn, we no longer need to be in the same place, at the same time (which is just as well really).  

This free and fast way of communicating and sharing instant information means no travel fees, and you can half your dry-cleaning costs. So long as you are wearing your shirt and jacket when you Facetime, no one needs to know what lies beneath.

Maybe this freedom is why employees who work at home are more productive than office dwellers, and make almost 20% more phone calls a week than those tied to their desks, according to a study by Forbes.

The probability of any face-to-face communication decrease as the distance between desks increases.

Studies prove that if you sit fifty-meters or more away from someone, you are enormously more likely to email them, so why does it matter if you are in the same office? 

Elvis left the building, and we all still love him.

Working from home is often still perceived as ‘skiving’ however, especially by the older generation, whose working day started and stopped at the office or factory.

Answering emails or taking calls whilst not sat behind a desk, is met with “Call that work?” And then a long explanation of what ‘work’ meant to them. It often involved a long bike ride, making tea for the boss and no lunch break.

And finally

In other travel related chaos, a ‘forgetful’ pensioner, Maurice Hunter, aged 80, from South London, accidentally left his wife at the airport and jetted off to sunny Spain without her.

He only realised she was missing when the plane landed. He was very shocked and upset when he noticed the lady he had been cheekily waving to across the aisle for two hours, was not his wife Carolyn, of 47 years, but a complete stranger.

Maurice had trotted off for a tinkle before take-off and then went to find his extra-leg room seat on the plane, while Carolyn, who did not have a ticket in the luxury seating area, stood waiting for him.

He asked one of the Air Stewards to find out where and how his wife was. She replied ‘She’s fine and back in London.’

The last thing she said to him ‘Don’t be too long in there Maurice.”

He was back within an hour (ha, take that Southern Fail!). Just as well, Carolyn had all his diabetes medication.

They ended up going to Whistable in Kent instead.

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