Southern California - home to Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Malibu. Both celebrities and normal people alike flock to its idyllic beaches, delicious In-n-Out, gorgeous avocados, lovely weather, fantastic music scene…

And then there’s the traffic.

After starting work this summer, I learned two things: 1) Commuting is a drain on your quality of life in every possible aspect, and 2) My parents are super people for undertaking this commute for over nineteen years.

My mom and I both work in Downtown Los Angeles, though my commute is a little longer than hers. My typical morning scheduled goes like this:

  • 5:30 am: wake up
  • 6:00 am: catch the bus to DTLA
  • 7:15 am: take another bus to work
  • 7:30 am: arrive at work
  • 4:00 pm: leave work
  • 4:20 pm: arrive at the bus stop home
  • 4:45 pm: catch the bus home
  • 6:00 pm: arrive home
  • 9:30 pm: go to bed

Some days, when the traffic is bad, we don’t arrive home until 6:30 - and that’s not even bad compared to what many drivers face. At least we can sleep on the bus.

I’ve been working a little less than two weeks now, and the commute is already taking a toll on my mental and physical health.

With jolting stops plaguing the entire ride, journaling or sketching on the bus is very difficult, and since work entails eight hours in front of a computer screen, bringing my laptop on the bus doesn’t sound very appealing.

By the time I get to work, I already feel exhausted from spending an hour and a half in traffic; by the time I get home, over three hours of my waking day will have been spent either sitting in traffic or waiting for a bus - over three hours, gone.

As an avid runner and yogi, it feels nearly impossible to maintain a fit lifestyle. Getting up to run in the morning means waking up at 4:45 latest. Adding yoga into that time frame means going to bed at 8:30 or even 7:30 to get adequate sleep - which, as an engineer, is kind of essential to doing calculations. Running at night makes it difficult to sleep, so that means running immediately after coming home… and spending less time with my family.

It’s only been two weeks with this kind of schedule, and I already feel trapped.

You can’t live anywhere close because living in Los Angeles is expensive; you can’t drive because gas is also expensive. So, you bus or train from far away, where rent is more affordable. Three, four, five, or even six hours of your day spent commuting means you have enough money to feed yourself, and maybe your family if you’re lucky.

What else can you do?