“Trippin'” for Family
My folks live in the D.C. area. To say that some people have long commutes in this area is an understatement. My daddy had a secretary that drove in every day from WEST VIRGINIA! Oy.
Thurmond Alford makes the trip a lot of people would only make for holidays or special occasions every day. It is said that home is where the heart is and Thurmond goes home to his every night.
Oil changes for his car are required every two weeks. “Leave the house time” is 4:00 a.m. every morning, Monday through Thursday. I think that people who have a happy home and know who they are enjoy being home.
Alford is to be admired for his work ethic and devotion to family; he knows what really matters is what the salary from the city job can never buy, and having it is a gift that not everyone attains.
Alford, 44, is surprisingly upbeat for someone who has been on the road seven hours a day for 12 years.
“Everybody has a monkey on their back– an issue they have to deal with,” he said. “My issue is my commute, and I accept it.”
Here’s Alford’s workday in a nutshell:
He wakes up at 3 a.m., gets ready and leaves the house 45 minutes later. He makes a quick stop at a convenience store for some tea, a snack and a little neighborhood chitchat. From there, he drives 1½ hours to a Garrisonville, Va. commuter lot.
“Basically, you stand in line in the heat of summer, the cold of winter, rain, snow. People come by. They pick you up because you need three people for HOV lanes,” Alford said.
The so-called “slug lines” are organized by destination, mostly to D.C. government buildings or Metro stations. Alford, a father of two and husband of a VCU professor, stands in line for the Pentagon.
“I met a two-star general through slugging,” he said.
After he’s dropped off, he walks to the Metro station, gets on a train, and makes one line transfer before disembarking around 7:30 a.m. Then, he walks a couple more blocks to the U.S. Department of Justice, where he works as a program manager.
He typically arrives back in Chesterfield County by 7:30 or 8 p.m. One night, because of traffic jams, his commute home took more than six hours.
Alford estimates he spends about $45 every three days for gas – he chose his current car based on its gas efficiency and reliability. The DOJ reimburses him for his Metro cards. He gets an oil change every three weeks at about $70 a visit, and once a month he gets a $40 tire rotation to keep his car running smoothly.
Despite his many hours behind the wheel and his annoyance with slow drivers in the fast lane, Alford said he no longer gets road rage.
“I did at the very beginning, but I developed patience,” he said.(1)