Running on empty

_DSC4525289… 190… 323… I’m counting up the daily mileages in my logbook as I prepare my taxes for the year. When I get through it will total over 49,000 business miles, a tally marked by milestones such as oil changes (one every three weeks) and a seemingly endless number of repairs, including a rebuilt transmission. I didn’t fix the power steering in the Volvo, though; at the end of the day my arms are sore and my neck is stiff from wheeling the stubborn vehicle around trailer park driveways and apartment complex parking lots. I joke that the “workout” saves me money on gym fees, but the nagging pain in my lower back makes me wonder if the car is holding up better than I am.

I’ve been making these runs twice a day, five days a week, for the last year, ever since the pharmacy spun off the delivery service to an outside contractor. Before, I split my workweek between driving and shooting high school sports for a yearbook company. But the photography job ended right when the new company took over, and since then I’ve been on the road beginning at 10 a.m., returning at five for another round of evening deliveries, driving the same rural back roads and urban neighborhoods every day.

In November I made a decision to cut back to one run a day, the morning one. It was getting dark earlier and my night vision isn’t what it used to be. I’m having trouble judging distances in the darkness, and the high beams in my eyes give me splitting headaches. Plus the evening run is hell on having any kind of social life, or practicing with a band. It would mean less money, but I’ve felt that every hour you spend working at a job you don’t like is an hour you’re not spending doing something that will get you out of there.

So what am I doing with my newly acquired free time? Filling out job applications online, putting up fliers for my sound business, practicing the bass, joining networking groups. It seems counter-intuitive to decrease my wage-earning work in the present economic environment, but I have more energy and concentration without my driving schedule shattering my day into useless, unpredictable fragments. I just hope it pays off.

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