Tuesday, 24 February 2009


A friend of mine commutes to London each day. Nothing unusual in that, except that he does it by bike. He cycles three miles uphill to reach the station, catches his train, stowing his foldaway bike safely as he does so, and then cycles across London to get to his desk. He works an eight-hour day and then cycles home again –downhill this time. He does this all year round, in all weathers.

LawCare helpline callers frequently tell us that their commute is a major part of the work stress they face, and I can understand why. during my last trip to London for a LawCare Board meeting I found myself very glad that I don’t have to commute every day. The meeting ended just in time for rush hour, I was squashed in so tightly on the tube that I could barely breathe, and was lucky to get a seat on the train home.

On the other hand, most of the people around me on the 17:25 Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria seemed pretty relaxed. Several were relaxed to the extent of being asleep, others were reading the paper, listening to music or texting friends on their phones. When I dropped the lid of my hand cream and it rolled away under the seats there was even a moment of sociable hilarity as several people dived for it, and it was returned with a warm smile.

I wondered whether the daily hour on the train might not be the only opportunity many of these people get to sit and do nothing. Perhaps it is even a vital opportunity to relax between frantic work time at the office, and a busy evening cooking, cleaning, chasing the children into bed, catching up with the email and going for a late session at the gym.

Whilst part of the stress of commuting might be the time it takes out of an overloaded day, time spent sitting doing nothing is never wasted. Perhaps a commute, however arduous, might be seen as “down time”, time to relax and recharge and, in the process, get from A to B, even if it might feel as though you are cycling uphill in the snow to do so.

LawCare’s free and confidential helpline is available 9-7.30 Monday-Friday, 10-4 weekends, on:
0800 279 6888 (Solicitors, Law Students and Legal Executives in England and Wales)
0800 279 6869 (Solicitors, Advocates and Law Students in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man)
0800 018 4299 (Barristers, Clerks and Judges in England and Wales)
1800 991801 (Solicitors in the Republic of Ireland)

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