I surf to relax, and so I prefer the beach when the points are crowded. More often that not, however, this means that the waves are breaking on the outer bar, making it harder to paddle out. On the points you can always paddle around the breakers, but on the beach you've got to go through them. This does not make for an easy commute.
Commuting was on my mind last week when I heard a story on NPR about a helicopter commuter service from northern New Jersey to Manhattan at a fee of $100 each way. At $200 for a round trip, the service represents significantly more money than I live on in a week, including rent, food, and my Wednesday 110 kilometer roundtrip commute to the University.
Like paddling through breakers on the beach, that commute does not represent the easy way out. It's starts with seven kilometers on my folding bicycle with a backpack full of books, a patch kit and pump in case of a flat. My Busit card rewards me with a $2 discount for the next 43 kilometers on Gobus, and my folding bike ensures an interesting conversation with a stranger.
Once in the big city, I've got another 5 kilometers to the University campus. The streets are mostly flat and many have cycle lanes. By now I know the shortcuts through quiet neighborhoods, and which bakeries sell day-old donuts at half price.
The return trip is much the same, except for the donuts. I do, however, arrange to stop at the supermarket next to the bus station where prices are significantly lower than at our small, local grocery. By picking up a few items there, the money saved is greater than the price of the round trip bus fare, which is just over 10 New Zealand dollars. At the average exchange rate, that's about 6 U.S. dollars. Not bad...compared to what I hear some people pay to commute.
But it's no helicopter ride, and it's not what most people would consider convenient. But convenience costs. By reducing my expenses, I reduce the need for income. Reduced income comes from fewer hours worked. Few hours worked allows more free time. More free time means more time on the board...even if it is at the beach.
Speaking of which...