Monday, January 23, 2006

Commute musings

Training broke a few minutes early today, so I had the opportunity to get on the road a little earlier this evening. As such, I saw a slightly different traffic pattern than I usually do. Many of us know how much travel time changes with respect to departure times, particularly during peak commute times. Leaving ten minutes late might put you smack in the middle of a large pack of traffic, putting you more than twenty minutes behind on arrival. Like the air traffic system, small changes propagate throughout the system- a brief delay early can have massive repercussions at the end of shift across the country.

Some places offer Flextime to their employees' schedules, others offer the famous 10-4 shifts of four ten-hour days and a three day weekend. Back when I worked retail at Barnes & Noble, I always preferred the Mid 1 swing shift- 10 to 7. No need to wake up so early that your previous evening is ruined, and not too late to prevent fun and excitement after work.

As you may suspect, my current employer offers no such wiggle room, but that's not why I brought you here.

I'm luckily traveling against the trends of Austin/contemporary traffic- driving from the city to work in the suburbs. While observing the congestion on one side of the highway and my relatively free-moving side, I started thinking about the importance of shifting work shifts, and the resulting impact of lessened traffic, extended work hours (from the organization's position more so than the individual's), improved morale, the ability to actually run errands around the work day, and the overall just damn convenience of it all.

I started thinking about working fewer hours per week, and what that would mean to a person. Since I've come from the perspective of possessing a great deal of free time, it's still a fresh memory. If you only worked thirty hours a week, what would you do with the extra ten hours? I suspect that a lot of folks would spend it selfishly one way or another- either on entertainment, or on taking care of personal business, or finally just getting your very own round tuit. (Get it?) I also figure that a lot of people would press on with their hobbies, probably turning them into a revenue stream when possible. It's like the kind of self-improvement book where you don't need to read, just the title- "Do what you love and the money will follow." Yes, that's a real book.

So with the masses of working America now working less for the man and more for themselves, I would have a veritable army of professional amateurs. My ProAms would then prosper based on their mining the Long Tail as appropriate to their idiom, and we would see the Great American Dream of individualism, entrepreneurism and egalitarianism actualized on an unprecedented scale.

I just want to change the world.

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