Since my first comment about the Ottawa transit strike, I’ve studiously avoided ranting any further about it. But I would like to vent a bit on my life the last few weeks without public transit.
I’m home today because I couldn’t get a ride to work. I have 3 commute options I’ve been juggling since the strike started – rather, and more to the point — they’ve been juggling me.
My workplace has very flexible work hours and the work doesn’t always take place in the office. So, my work hours are now dependant on whoever is going to be in the office most of the day. I’ve been starting anywhere between 6:30 and 9:30. Depending on when we’re travelling, the drive can last anywhere from the 15 minutes it should take to an hour if we have to be on the road during peak times.
When I wake up in the morning, I usually (not always) know when I have to be ready to meet my ride, but I never know when I’ll be getting home. A good part of my day is spent organizing a ride for the next day.
I can’t plan anything about my day. I can’t arrange anything for after work because I never know when that’s going to be. I can’t even organize anything for when I’m at work. I’ve missed things because my ride needs to leave on short notice.
I could walk, but I reckon it would take about 90 minutes in the snow. And it’s freakin’ cold.
Sometimes my ride has an early appointment out of the office so I have to leave after being at work only a few hours. Today, one person is off on training; one person has appointments all day; and my last resort is off sick. So I’m staying home.
I don’t know if I can adequately describe to you how pathetic I feel. I made a choice to live without a vehicle – partly for economical reasons, partly because I felt the world didn’t need me on the road adding to global warming and accident statistics, partly because I live in an urban area served by a transit system so I figured I didn’t really need a vehicle.
Boy, do I feel foolish now. Outside of work, I can sort of manage without transit. I’ve missed a few appointments – medical and social and the only shopping/errands I’ve done is for necessities. But this getting to and from work thing is demoralizing.
I know I’m very lucky my employer is flexible and I’m very lucky I have 3 different options for rides and I’m very, very lucky that everywhere my daughter needs to be is within easy walking distance for her. And I’m incredibly grateful to the people who are upsetting their own schedules to drive me around. And I certainly know there are worse things that could befall me.
But right now this is really sucking something essential out of my life. This might not even be a big deal to a lot of people, but my weekdays are tightly scheduled and organized so that I get done all the things I need to get done during the week. Yes, I thrive on routine. When I have no routine, I don’t thrive.
I don’t want to feel beg for rides and be beholden to everyone. And, despite how fortunate I am with my commute and workplace situation, I don’t feel lucky at all. I feel angry. I feel stressed. I feel helpless, irritable and a little nauseous all the time.
That being said, I know the frustration and upheaval I’m experiencing can’t compare to what life must be like these days for people who have to get their kids to school or daycare; whose employers aren’t as understanding; who have few or no commute options; and who aren’t within walking distance of a grocery store.
There’s a 74-year-old man in my neighbourhood. Very nice guy. Very active. He swims every day, walks every day, but has no family or close friends anymore. He’s been out walking an extra few minutes every day for the last couple of weeks he tells me because he’s “in training”. On February 4th he has a medical appointment and it’s a 2 hour walk there and a 2 hour walk back, so he figures he’d better get into extra good shape. He’s hoping the weather will cooperate.
I don’t know or care anymore who’s to blame for this strike. I’m pretty sure the blame can be distributed evenly to both sides. I only know it shouldn’t be allowed to go on this long and probably shouldn’t have been allowed to happen in the first place. The issues do not warrant wreaking this kind of havoc.
Strikes are supposed to be against management. They’re supposed to hurt (financially or otherwise) the employer — not the public at large, many of whom are struggling in worse conditions than the strikers; many of whom are losing their livelihoods; their independence and their minds because of this strike. Management, meanwhile is laughing all the way to the bank, to the tune of $3 million per week in not having to pay wages.
I’m thinking of buying a car.
 And, worst of all I find myself totally uninspired when it comes to the blog. You may have noticed that my posts recently are kind of lacklustre. They pretty much reflect my state of mind.