Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"Extreme Commuting"

News Flash! Sitting on your ass in a car for an hour or more is bad for you!

According to the Disney Morning News today, about one in ten commuters has more than an hour to drive each way, each day, and the health costs are mounting. Back pain and spinal injury sound like the most exciting consequences, but the report briefly mentioned loss of sleep and lack of exercise as other drawbacks.

"And it will only get worse," the voice-over announcer added.

Really. I love the way we just accept our fate while a problem gets worse, and then try to solve it when it has become a pillar of our social order and economy. We accept being canned and shoved down a conveyor belt day after day. We accept our increasing hatred of one another, just based on how we act driving our cars down crowded raceways.

Keeping us in cans may actually help control the expression of hatred, because we're mostly too busy to stop and act on it. We come wired to dislike each other. Each technological advance through history just gives us new options to employ. For every overt act of road rage, dozens more dissipate in vulgar gestures and mouthed profanity. Add to that the hundreds, thousands of moments of aggravation that only produce muttered curses or mental images of retaliation. Oh, how you'd show that son of a bitch if you didn't have to rush to an appointment right now.

The solution is not smaller cars, alternative transportation and shorter commutes. Every long-distance commuter should do it in a motor home and bring the family along. Carry your whole life with you. "If you were homeless, you'd be home by now." Don't own a house. Just buy a nice lot in a suburban neighborhood, and build a docking bay for the family barge.

Combining the power of the Internet with home schooling, the kiddies could attend accredited classes while on the road. You can be involved in their lives and still live out in the land of malls and sprawl.

An entirely mobile society could reduce the cost of transporting food to the people by transporting people to the food. While the designated driver drives and the designated worker telecommutes on the nationwide wireless network, the kids absorb their educations and the family pet tries to keep its balance in a constantly moving world, the whole rolling box of Joneses can drive to where the fresh veggies are. No need to feel guilty for that fresh produce in the middle of northern winter.

Hybrid-powered motor homes could reduce the atmospheric carbon output of the family behemoth, and increase fuel economy. We would have to widen our roads a bunch, but it's for the betterment of humanity.

Shopping on line, the mobile family could receive its goods en route, either by arranging a rendezvous with the delivery truck or by actual in-flight resupply. The delivery truck could haul alongside, while the occupants of each vehicle pass the loot across. Wal Mart could shut down the stores and beef up its fleet of trucks.

Life really is a journey. Come on. Hit the road. You're late already.

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