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My friends outside of California can't believe I drive 40 miles (each way) from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the heart of Silicon Valley five days a week. That's 1,600 miles and about 48 hours each month. How do I do it?
For those of us who work in the San Francisco Bay Area, it's all part of the lifestyle.
It also helps that I like my coworkers (no, really). And that I occasionally carpool with fellow Santa Cruz resident and FindLaw senior writer Richard Link.
A long commute is a rite of passage for many of the more than 7 million residents in the greater Bay Area, a region crisscrossed with freeways, bridges, bike lanes, and commuter trains. And while it consists of nine counties and three major cities, the area functions like a singular metropolis.
The longest commute to the Sunnyvale office probably belongs to Kevin Ahlvin, our director of business marketing.
Kevin uses a combination of trains and bicycling for his 50-mile trek from Berkeley, and also drives a natural gas-powered Honda.
But Ahlvin doesn't just space out during his long drive. He listens to UC Berkeley classes and audio books on his iPhone (including courses on cognitive science and philosophy). He also takes the time to brush up on his personal hygiene:
"I floss my teeth more now, so my dentist says he's happy in that category," Ahlvin said with a clean grin.
Senior writer Robin Cain takes public transit from San Francisco and walks about a half mile from the train station near our office. She passes the time by observing her fellow travelers, which she finds utterly fascinating:
"I've seen a guy making a giant balloon animal hat, overheard really awkward phone conversations, and watched an unruly passenger get arrested."
Senior editor Nicole Johnson, who drives a natural gas-powered car from Oakland, considers the long commute "me" time. She either catches up on phone calls, listens to public radio or puts on some Jay-Z to get amped for the day.
Audience group manager Werner Colangelo, who rides his motorcycle from Palo Alto (just 10 miles away), enjoys the sights and smells of the Bay Area as he winds his way toward the office:
"And when I ride I can smell the food that is cooking in the houses and restaurants as I go past. My favorite is an Indian place near Mountain View. The cooking onions always smell great."
But even those who live close to work, such as digital strategy and social media manager Stephanie Rahlfs, still contend with the Bay Area's infamous gridlock. While she lives just six-and-a-half miles away, she's lucky if it only takes 30 minutes to get home from work.
We wouldn't do it if we didn't love our jobs. Working at FindLaw is worth the drive.