Colleagues in Leagues of Our Own?

I’m looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. One of my colleagues spent the weekend at a wedding in Seattle, and I want to hear all about it.

Seattle’s not far from here: forty-minute ferry ride, ninety-minute drive. But for this colleague, spending a night in Seattle is equivalent to me flying across the country. Except that it’s maybe a bigger deal.

Teachers tend to be middle class folks. During all my years of teaching, I could generally expect to hear from my peers about their holiday trips to Hawaii or Disneyland, or to family back east. Worth photo-sharing, but hardly the trip of a lifetime.

But in my island bakery? Few as they are, my colleagues now span a startlingly large income range, from going on assistance in the winter when the bakery closes, to heading off for a college career already paid for by family money, and everything in between.

It makes for interesting conversations.

Feel like complaining because two different friends have scheduled a wedding and a memorial service on the same weekend in two different states? Want to vent about the lack of legroom on airplanes these days?

Does the term “first world problems” mean anything to you?

(orig. image courtesy Pinterest)

(orig. image courtesy Pinterest)

When I hear about people’s problems, I always want to try to help, try to brainstorm solutions. But what’s the solution to a crappy landlord? What’s the solution to lack of full-time work with benefits in a small island community, or to crippling student loans preventing further education? Those are a little beyond me.

This post isn’t intended as a complaint. It’s more of a observation: I don’t think very many of us work many hours with folks whose financial context is vastly different from our own, at either end of the scale. And a question: when we do, how is it?

Me–I like it. Even when I can’t solve my colleagues’ problems. I still get a lot out of listening. And we work harder to come up with topics we can all share in, like family, or movies, or books. Or our customers. 🙂

How about you? Unless you work from home, are your co-workers more of less in your economic sphere, or not? How does that feel?



Commuting: Let’s See If We Can Spice That Boring Word Up, Shall We?

I’ve been thinking about the word “commute.” Could there BE a less descriptive word? 

My friend Iris just posted a very moving piece about her morning commute, which happens to include a ferry ride that most folks would pay to take. (Congrats again, Iris, on the latest step in your retirement from a long nursing career!)

I used to have a 25 minute commute to my school, mostly ugly interstate, which I blanked out by listening to the news. Gotta admit, I hear less news now. Somehow the world manages to turn anyway.

(orig. image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

(orig. image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

My former principal and his wife used to commute an hour and a half each way to their jobs in Tacoma…jobs which started at 6:45 am! Those are practically baker’s hours.

I know about baker’s hours now. I’ve noticed that folks gasp and shake their heads when I tell them I get up at 3:45 for a regular shift, or 3:15 if I’m head-baking and want to get a head-start. (Next week, as the bakery gears up for July Fourth, which is like Black Friday for retailers, some of us bakers will be getting up at 2, and on the Fourth itself, starting work at 2.)

(orig. image courtesy Wikimedia)

(orig. image courtesy Wikimedia)

Thing is, though, this is only a part-time job for me. Getting up before sunrise on the daily? No thanks. But three times a week…turns out it’s kinda cool.

So I’ve been experimenting with biking to work.

I used to do that only when I worked up front at the counter–i.e., during daylight hours. People would admiringly ask if I did that when I baked and I would respond, politely, “No, I need more sleep than that,” all the while thinking, “Are you NUTS? Bike at 3:30 in the morning??”

Guess what? I AM nuts. I LOVE biking at 3:30 in the morning.

3:20, to be exact. If I leave then, I arrive @ 4:15 (taking the most direct route, which I usually avoid due to traffic, but at 3:20, it’s just me and the deer). That gives me enough time to change clothes and slurp down a bowl of yogurt before diving into the dough.

I have great bike lights, rear and front (except when I forget to charge my headlamp and it goes out on me–but that’s another story). When it’s starry, I have stars to gaze at, though I really do need to keep my eyes on the road because our deer are legendarily STUPID. I do NOT fancy hitting a deer in the dark. Last month I had a big, fat, lopsided pumpkin of a moon off to the west. Hints of sunrise beckon in the direction of my ride. And now, at midsummer, the sun’s doing more than hinting, it’s coloring the bay pink and purple as I speed down the hill toward the village.

Am I more tired at the end of a baking shift if I’ve biked in? Sure–but I’m infinitely more satisfied. And, once I get myself home–okay, I’ll admit, biking home is the hard part, when fatigue is riding along with me–I don’t have to worry about waking myself up later for a workout. I am DONE. Best. Nap. Ever.

Don’t get me wrong: I won’t be doing this every day. Biking takes 40 more minutes than driving, and those 40 minutes would pack a cumulative wallop of sleep deprivation if I missed ’em too often.

But those days when I do bike in? I’ll be baking with a big, smug smile.

(orig. image courtesy Wikimedia)

(orig. image courtesy Wikimedia)

What does “commuting” mean to you? Is there any opportunity to be gleaned from it? Favorite radio show, music, digital books? Kid time? What’s the coolest commute you know of? How do YOU make that boring word a little more descriptive?