Interview with the Commuter

by Ann Rude.


Here is what I think would be a typical commuter response to being given information and asked to live closer or in the same city as their place of employment, e.g. Madison.

"Change? Move? What for? I like living out there! Life couldn't be any better than this. I never wanted to live in a big city like Madison. I can afford a bigger house and lot out here (lower taxes), and there are fewer big city problems or responsibilities like that to deal with out there. I finally got what I want.

"On top of that, I have nice, big, straight, and smooth freeways to get back and forth to work on, or to go to East Town, or West Town, or the farmer's market, or the library (still got my city library card), or the new convention center, MATC, the Zoo, Art Fair on the Square, a Badger game, free concerts on the square, Woodman's, the Coliseum, the Kohl Center, the Union Terrace (free shows), A Taste of Madison (free music and entertainment), the Blues Fest (not free!), the Willy Street Fair (lots of free music), Jazz in the Park (free - Wingra Park), my class at the UW, the Orton Park Festival, Rhythm and Booms (also free), Kids at the CrossRoads (free!), my old friend's place, the Isthmus Jazz Festival (mostly free).... And get a load of this (chuckle chuckle): the "freeways" are paid for by all Wisconsin citizen's, through their car registration fees, and gas taxes, including those folks who live and work in Madison and don't use the freeway hardly at all (suckers!). And to top it all off, the Madison folks pay for the city streets I use to drive my cars and SOVs back and forth on, with their already astronomical property taxes (more chuckles).

"I just wish there weren't so many [ ] bicyclists, pedestrians, kids, church go-ers, students, and other riffraff living and wandering around Madison. It makes it too hard to drive in and out of town. And the traffic? I've never seen it any worse. Too many people driving. And lousy obnoxious drivers, too. One of these days, some poor fool, or a kid, heaven forbid, is going to get run over! Just like what happened to that bicyclist in Florida. Oh you didn't hear of that? Some idiot rode his bike off a bridge and landed right smack in the middle of the freeway. Dumb [ ]. Nobody could stop in time. He didn't have a chance. There wasn't anywhere for anybody to pull over and help. Real nasty. A guy with an "I break for animals" bumper sticker on finally tried to pull over and almost caused an accident! He should have just kept on going like everyone else did. It was too late to do anything anyway, if you know what I mean.

"Madison is getting like that too, you know. Big problems to deal with all right. Getting bigger, too. I'm glad I don't live here anymore. What's that? Change? Me? Live in Madison? You've got to be joking! (uncontrollable laughter) Oh, you're serious? I'm part of the problem? What? Never mind, I heard you the first time. You're wrong buddy, I just work here. I'm from outside of Madison. A real nice little place, called Sprawlsville. Nice place to live and raise a family. Not too far out. Only about 35 miles, as the crow flies. With the new 8 lane freeway, and the two bypasses finally completed, I can be home in no time, less than a half-hour. I have to leave the office before 2:30 PM though, just to get out of Madison. But once I hit the freeway, its clear sailing, thanks to DOT. I just come in early a day every now and then and make up the time. It all works out I'm sure. I don't know why on earth anyone would choose to live in Madison anymore. Its as bad as LA around here now. Anyway, its been nice talking to you.

"Oh, I almost forgot. Let's meet in my neighborhood next time. Its less congested and quieter than here in Madison. Besides, its my turn to be the home team (chuckle). Remember, I just work here, nothing more. No really, I'm being serious. It would be much better for me and my lungs if we didn't meet here. I developed asthma a few years ago. My doctor can't tell me why or how I got it. But I'm afraid the air in this city is going to bring on another attack sometime. Maybe even while I'm driving. That's right. I'd be history. Just like that Betty Franklin Hammond woman who had that asthma attack here last spring on East Wash. Real big loss for all of us. For society. Makes you think twice about things. Anyway, I gotta run now. Its almost 2:30 PM, and the traffic is a build'n. Good luck with your study, or whatever it is your trying to accomplish. What's that? Pay people not to drive so much? You've got to be kidding (loud laughter). Way too radical for me, buddy. Never happen. Why where would they get the money? What? The highway fund? Now I know you're nuts. How would they have anything left to build the next 8 laner?

"I gotta hit the road now. Forget about meeting again. I can't handle it. My heart is bad, too. My doctor says I'm too overweight and out of shape. He's probably right. Comes from snacking in the SOV and driving too much. No time for anything else you know, including exercising. Life's too short anyway. Why should I waste it huffin and puffin somewhere? It doesn't make any sense. Why take another form of transportation, when we've got all this (pointing to road and freeway system in distance).

"Man, you have some goofy and weird ideas. Have you seen a doctor lately? No, not for your heart or lungs, for your head! Maybe you should. You seem a little loony, if you don't mind my saying so. "Pay people who don't drive much" (more laughter). That's a good one.

"To be quite honest with you buddy, I never want to see your face or kind again. You folks are un-American. Bad for our country. Now I've got to fight that stupid Madison traffic again. Where the heck are all those people going, anyway?

"Please sir, don't you EVER come out to Sprawlsville. If you know what's good for you, you won't. You just might not make it back to this place. That's right buddy, I'm dead serious. We don't tolerate your kind out where we live, and I'm not the only one out there that thinks this way."