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GoTo Mom: Commuting as the Ultimate Networking Club

An hour-long commute can be soul-sucking, but with the right passenger beside you, it can be the best way to get inspired and to unwind.

Who knew that the daily commute could be the ultimate club for professional mothers trying to be on top of it all.

As I climb up the stairs of the metro station at Shady Grove, I find myself invariably scoping out the platform, curious to know if I would find a familiar face. But one particular person is on my mind a lot these days.

I hadn’t had much opportunity to chat with Anne when I was a freelance journalist working from home, as she was busy during the week going to and from her office in downtown Washington. What I did know from the brief chats I did have with her was that she was a thoughtful and obviously very intelligent person that I wished I had more opportunities to hang out with.

Who knew that metro would provide me with the opportunity to network with a fellow over-scheduled working mother.

Since I started commuting daily into Farragut North in March, I’ve run into her twice on the train, which has led to about 90 minutes of thought-provoking conversation ranging from a career in academia versus a position at a think tank, to hospice care and summer vacation plans. Not only were my chance encounters with her a great way to while away a tedious commute, but they have actually kept me motivated to stay the course and try to juggle that sometimes almost impossible juggling act of trying to stay on top of what the kids are doing whilst being a fabulous employee.

So I find myself every morning, wondering whether I would see her and heaving a melancholic sigh when the doors shut and she is nowhere to be seen.

Still, I must confess. I am also two-timing her, since Anne is not my only target of my commuting affection.

Andrea is the other source of inspiration, information and pure gossip. I have to coordinate with her to drive into town, which so far has happened a couple of times a month, but she has made it so much easier to leave the house at 7am for a long drive down I-270 and beyond. When we somehow are able to coordinate that soul-wrenching commute at an unearthly hour, I am actually really pleased that I will get an hour of being able to pick the brain of someone I respect professionally. In fact, I am certain that a lengthy conversation with her about some issues I was having about asserting myself in the new workplace helped me understand how I could better position myself in dealing with office politics. At the same time, I’m fairly confident that Andrea won’t think less of me just because I’m also eager to discuss details about the IMF’s sex scandal at length.

So here’s to commuting long distances. It’s not about the destination, but about the quality time you can find with people you otherwise would find it nearly impossible to have a tete-a-tete with.

 

-- GoTo Mom is a fortnightly musing by a Gaithersburg mother of two who is still trying to figure out even after seven years of how to have perfectly behaved children, an adoring husband, and a dream job. She likes to unwind after a day of dealing with realty  with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Robin Ferrier May 25, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Shihoko -- I'm glad you've found some community in your commute. I, too, had that same experience when I first started taking the metro. Then, I got tired of having to be "on" and talkative during my morning commute and found myself just wanting peace... which meant I had to start taking a different car on the train vs. the one that dumped me out right in front of the escalator. I hope you don't have the same experience of ultimately feeling worn out by the camraderie.

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