Home and Work

The recession continues…


As I look forward to the upcoming school year, and resuming work as a high school science teacher, I am screening candidates to take over my position at my part time job in artificial intelligence research.  The job is absolutely fascinating, but requires a very specific skill set, so I am not surprised that half of the applicants that have come my way are eager, but unqualified.  The other half have the qualifications, but most are unwilling to commute to work. 


I respect those professionals who can work remotely – it takes a lot of discipline to focus on work tasks amid homely distractions.  I know it can work well, too – I work remotely over ten hours per week.  And with gas prices as they are, I am not surprised if some don’t want to spend the cash and broaden their carbon footprints.


The reason most of my applicants don’t want to commute has less to do with their desire to work from home or the cost of gas, and more to do with the fact that they are commuting for one, two, or three hours, even without traffic… in one direction.


Times must be tight when a person looks well beyond their community to find work.  I even have an applicant who had hoped she could do the work from her house, in Hawaii.


Work defines so many of us, even if the work is unpaid.  But home is where the heart is.  I love teaching and have been fortunate to always live within a half hour of where I teach, so where I stimulate my head and where I rest it are not far removed, making for a comfortable balance.


But what happens if your work is a world away from your home life?  Do you run the risk of undervaluing community, for never having time to be in it?  When you think of a park, family-run business, or hiking trail, is your recollection of one hazy at best, these memories being replaced by the speediest megamart, McDonalds, and gas station you can think of?


My husband’s colleague recently began renting an apartment so he could begin to enjoy his second work home, in Texas, when away from California.  He was tired of megamarts, McDonalds, and Marriots, and ready to fill his life with more calm.  Still, he commutes regularly across states, to keep his job, returning home to his wife after days afar.  Without children, the impact of his work commute is not as immense as it could be, to his personal life.  But what if he and his wife decide to have kids?


Our family hikes, runs, bikes, and plays in the same community we work in, and we’ve grown to value it.  It’s wonderful to know the neighborhood news, natural treasures, and local personalities.  Silicon Valley is not exactly “small town America,” but when you can find fields of poppies, mustard, and scarlet pimpernel, eat the best Falafel around (Falafel Drive-In), play T-ball with the neighbors, and chat about local elementary school politics at the supermarket, it sure feels that way.


We hope Stroller Hikes can help you build your sense of community.  Join us outside for an escape from technology, your commute, and this recession.  Hikes are always free (we note where there are parking fees, in hike descriptions, however).  Can’t join us?  Rebuild those memories of the local park or hiking trail by creating your own adventure using our interactive map (http://www.strollerhikes.com/InteractiveMap.php) or comparison chart (http://www.strollerhikes.com/Hikes/ComparisonChart.php)!


-Debbie, little Max, and wee Holly

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