Getting to work

A different way each day

‘Getting to work: a different way each day’ was a series of experiments to challenge my daily commute. When I began these experiments I had recently started a new job in central London, approximately 3.5 miles from my home. I had quickly become frustrated with my commute, the tube was crowded and stressful, and the bus was slow and tedious.

One evening I started to brainstorm all the different ways I could get to work. A list of ideas quickly emerged. I decided that I would spend the next month finding a different way to work, each day. The only rule was that I needed to be at work by 9am, but I could leave as early as necessary in order to make the journey as interesting, or unusual as possible.

The first day was simple. I caught the number 98 bus to Holborn like I always had done. It took ages, we moved at a snails pace. But as the days went by, I came up with more and more inventive ways to achieve my daily commute.

For example, there was the day I stopped at every red London telephone box I saw on my way to work and called a different friend, playing Stevie Wonders ‘I just called, to say, I love you’ down the phone to each person that picked up. I quickly discovered that London phone boxes are full of sex ads and rather smelly, and my friends all think I’m a bit mad.

Each evening I would write up the story of how I’d got to work that day, and plan how I was going to get to work the following day. (I made the images later!)

One time I drew a straight line on a map from my home to the office, and attempted to walk as closely to this line as possible, whilst drawing a line of chalk behind me as I went. I got stopped by the police and nearly arrested outside Madame Tussaud’s for ‘defacing public property,’ but somehow managed to continue on, all the way to the office, in the name of art.

Another day it was due to rain, so I decided to take the tube, but with a special condition, I would only allow myself to go one stop on any given tube line, and I had to take the stairs in between rides;- 7 tubes and 886 steps fitter, and I felt a bit like I turned into Alice falling down the rabbit hole.

Soon I started to engage other people in my adventures. A neighbour lent me his row boat as a couple of friends had agreed to row me part of the way down the canal, through the tunnel and past the zoo. I read them Spike Milligan’s ‘Milliganimals’ as we cruised along eating plums in the early morning light. At Regent’s park I hopped out and continued the rest of my journey by foot, whilst they rowed back home.

On September 21st it was ‘International Day of Peace’ so I cut out 30 little white cards, wrote ‘Imagine Peace’ on each one, and attached a piece of yellow ribbon to the corner of each card. As I walked to work I hung the little cards on posts and fences and other unusual spots for people to find. My neighbours daughter told me she had seen one on the gate and had ‘imagined peace’ all the way to school.

Throughout the month, I did all sorts of things I’d never done before, and ended up having one of the most exciting months I’d had in a long time. I discovered parts of London I’d never seen, and met some new interesting people, all before I’d even started my work day.

So whilst routine’s can be useful, if they get boring perhaps it’s just time for a change, time to shake things up a bit and create some new experiences for oneself.

After all there’s always another way of seeing things, life is never really that mundane, unless we let it be! So, what routine do you want to break?

If you would like to read more about this, you can read the stories of each days adventure in full here.