There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reading for pleasure on the bus

Working on the bus would be OK, but only if it were free-lance work outside my day job. One of the overriding reasons why I am willing -- and free will is important here -- to spend more than two hours traveling to and from work using Sacramento Regional Transit is the opportunity to use that time for something other than my day job.

Once upon a time, my day job included a lot of paperwork. My boss knew it was more work than could be done in the time allotted during the day. He suggested farming it out to others. But I had a real problem with allowing people who didn't care as passionately as I did to do the work. So the paper would pile up until I finally took it home. It got to be a scheduled activity. I would sit at my son's karate lessons looking like a teacher grading class assignments.

Eventually paper gave way to electronic communications and my poor work habits -- or unreasonably fierce devotion to the task at hand, take your pick -- made 10-hour days routine. My company even gave me a computer with all of the work-related software installed and paid for my home Internet access. The company was the enabler, but I was a willing participant. I celebrated the flexibility working from home allowed. I saw it as freedom.

Today I understand that freedom without discipline is an invitation to disaster. By riding the bus each day, I frame my workday. This is my time; that is work time. My time to do free-lance work: Cool. My time to catch up on my day job: Not cool.

After yesterday's free-lance work, I enjoyed getting out my book and reading today on the ride to work. When the bus again arrived at 65th Street station just early enough so that bus riders could wave goodbye to the departing train, I enjoyed sitting down on a bench at the station and sipping the coffee I bring each day and reading. I enjoyed reading and drinking coffee so much that I was surprised when the next train pulled into the station.

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