Only in California… Dolts who drive

NPR’s “All Things Considered” had a short segment yesterday about how gas prices may curb extreme commuting.

The national average of gas zoomed past the four dollar mark this week, and that’s hurting the pockets of just about every commuter on the roads. But in California — which has the highest gas prices in the country — one man may feel the pinch at the pump more than other commuters. NPR’s Andrea Seabrook talks to Dave Givens who commutes 186 miles, one way, just to get to work each day.

Mr. Givens spends nearly seven hours each day commuting back and forth to work. He won’t move closer to his job because he “likes where he lives” and enjoys the two waking hours he spends there each evening. Note: He doesn’t live 186 miles away from his office because he’s caring for invalid parents, because of medical necessity, or even because the place has better schools for his kids. He drives seven hours so that he can enjoy two hours.

Mr. Givens is an engineer, a profession that does not absolutely require a commute like that. If he was a sales clerk in a store, a receptionist, a dentist, or a security guard, yes, but engineering is not a geographically fixed job.

I have one word for Mr. Givens – “telecommuting”. Save time, save gas, save money, save the planet, get a life. My office is nearly 500 miles away from my house. I go there once or twice a month. My daily commute generally involves a stumble to the coffee pot and then over to my desk. No wasted time sitting in traffic, no contributing to rising oil prices, no great amount of air pollution.

In the interview, Mr. Givens seemed pretty ho-hum about the commute, and struck me as being an irresponsible dolt. I doubt it ever crossed his mind to consider the amount of time and energy he was wasting. People like him are why we will never achieve energy independence. 28% of the oil used in this country is used for transportation, predominantly personal automobiles. That’s a volume equal to half the oil imports into the country. We use more oil driving automobiles than we import from the Middle East. [Data source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2008]

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