The Transportation Problem

When it comes to transportation, there are two types of job seekers; there are those who have their own transportation, and then there are those who rely on public transportation or the generosity of others. Both groups will tell you there are pros and cons of their situation.

The owner of a vehicle will cite rising gas prices, insurance, repairs, snow and all season tires and parking fees as problems. Those without cars complain about having to confine their job search to transportation routes, late pick-ups, overcrowding, schedules that make it inconvenient or impossible, or if relying on others for rides, lack of dependability. Transit of course isn’t free, so they share money concerns with drivers.

Very little of this is of concern to the employer. In a market where there is a large pool of job applicants, if one person is unreliable in getting to work on time, they can quickly replace them with any number of other people who will commit gladly to showing up on time if hired. You may be more qualified than others, but if you can’t get to work in the first place, they’ll pass you by.

So with this transportation issue in the forefront, it’s interesting to me the number of people who make some errors when it comes to job searching. For one thing, I’ve seen job seekers who apply for a job in another city, and then when they actually get an interview after going months with none, will bemoan the traveling time it will require to get to the employer. Surely it would be wise to either only apply for jobs within the geographical area you are comfortable traveling in, or at least consider alternatives like relocation or exploring options like carpooling with existing employees who may live in your area and drive.

And yet, there are numerous people who go to the interview, get offered the job, and then turn it down or worse yet, accept it and quit after two days because it was too much time to get to work. Without ever having explored other options like carpooling, it always strikes me as peculiar that someone wouldn’t have checked out public transit schedules when applying to determine exactly how long that ride might be if they worked at a company. Too much time and inconvenience? Don’t apply in the first place.

Another scenario that occurs often is when someone relies on buses to get to work, and with a changing shift schedule, the bus operates when going to work, but then doesn’t run when the person gets off and wants to return home. This is a genuine problem as no one wants to get out at 2 a.m. in the dark off a bus route, and face a long walk to a bus that is running. But why immediately quit without exploring the option of hailing a cab to run you to the bus route on the way home? If you call ahead and make arrangements, the cab could be waiting at the door when you get out, run you to the bus line, then one fare and you’re on your way home. And again, you might ask around on your first day and see if any other shift workers live either in your area or could run you to a bus route that is running and eliminate costs here altogether.

Now myself, I once held a job for 3 years where I drove two hours to work and two hours home. I did it but eventually moved to another town closer to work, and then I looked in to another job doing the same work closer to home and shortened the distance therefore at both ends. But I didn’t quit the job without having the other job to go to. My commute now is one hour to work and one hour home. Sure gas prices are higher than I’d like, but I switched years ago from an SUV to a SMART CAR and cut fuel costs as much as I could.

One fellow I worked with two months ago took a job in the City of Toronto but lives in Oshawa. His commute using transit is about two hours and he hates it but likes the pay cheque. He won’t move closer for reasons of his own, but is sticking it out for the present. He’s communicated a traveling issue which is causing him to arrive late by ten minutes every single day and the employer and he have come to an arrangement where he can keep arriving late for work but the employer has given him notice that he’ll be replaced in a months time. So he doesn’t quit but will be laid off, and in the meantime is getting work experience and a valuable lesson in negotiation and commitment. He’ll have a great story to share at future interviews – which I for one hope are closer to home!

If you are on transit, use the time to read, rest, listen to music, keep up on the news of the day, plot your strategy for the day ahead, chat with other riders, watch the progress of construction or enjoy the changing seasons. Rather than grumble about your commute, get what you can out of the time you’ve got.

How you view your commute is up to you. How you solve your transportation problem defines your problem-solving abilities.


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