Dr. V, Mega Commuter and Expert Snake Avoider

I read in an article on CNN the other that that a scant 8% of the population is comprised of ‘mega commuters’, that unlucky club whose commute consists of 90 minutes each way, three hours on the road a day. I felt sorry for them, until I realized I was one of them.

When we moved in December, in search of better schools and a better commute for my spouse, I hadn’t taken into account what we would do if our home school district didn’t have space for us. Of course they would, right? Except they didn’t, and the best they had to offer was another school nearby until the fall. Which would have been ok except for the fact that I already moved the kids’ school once last September, when we thought our house wouldn’t sell, and the thought of four schools in a year and a half was just more than I could bear for them. I’ve already put them through enough this year.

So, until this school year ends, despite the move and the promise of a new day and blah blah blah, I’m dragging my butt up and down one of So Cal’s most congested freeways four times a day. To school, back home. To pick them up, back home again. 45 minutes each way, 90 minutes roundtrip x twice a day. And I hate driving to begin with.

I tell you this not to elicit sympathy, though if anyone is wondering if California’s public school system is really as broken as you’ve heard the answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’. I tell you this by means of explanation as to why I’m not here, writing. I probably could type in the car, I spend enough time in it just kind of sitting around, but I imagine that sort of thing is frowned upon. So I listen to the radio and think to myself, how lovely it is for my husband that he now has such a short commute, and he better hand over that Sirius subscription stat.

In between driving, and driving some more, I’m doing all the same sorts of things I’ve always been doing, it’s just I no longer seem to be able to find a good 2 1/2 hours a day I used to have for documenting it. So much to say, between Koa’s funeral and working at Helen Woodward and oh yes, this:

Last weekend we took Brody to a much needed rattlesnake avoidance refresher course:

Normally I’d have lots and lots of pictures, and some video, and a long explanation of the difference between a good course and a useless course, but in my current state all I have to offer is this one photo. Oh, and a picture of a rattlesnake muzzle, in case you were wondering what one looks like:

We shot that from some distance, by the way. The snake’s mouth is being held shut with a humane snake muzzle (NOT duct tape!) though that doesn’t make me any more inclined to come closer than 30 feet. I hope someone makes a reality show about these trainer guys someday. They’ve forgotten more about snakes than I learned in 4 years of vet school.

The short version of an explanation, for those who are wondering, is that we are fortunate in San Diego to have a very professional and well educated team called Natural Solutions who offer a top notch rattlesnake aversion course.

There are terrible rattlesnake courses. I know people who have gone though them. I’ve read about the people who use mops instead of snakes or the wrong snakes or don’t know how to to properly use the collars or use them on dogs who are just not proper candidates for this type of program. If you’re wondering how this group works, I encourage you to read their FAQ and see why I trust them with Brody. I trust them so much I wrote to my city council lobbying to allow them a venomous snake permit for use within city limits (it was granted, fortunately).

I’ve already seen some snakes out and about on our walks, and this training gives me an added layer of comfort. Though considering I’m in my car most of the day, if I see one I can simply, you know, drive away.

On the plus side, last day of school is May 31. I’m throwing a party and you’re all invited.


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  • Sherry in MT

    I want them to come here! We have idiots teaching rattlesnake aversion around here. Good ol boys that think they know what they are doing! Then of course there are the pet people that think it is all just cruel (even to the snakes). Love the snake muzzle and do not envy your “car time”. ICK! You are a great Mom for doing that indeed! I think the last day of school should be your second Mother’s Day. Just sayin…

  • Gayle Cooley

    You are such a terrific writer Jess. I adore your blog. BTW, I hate driving too, and totally agree CA school system is completely broken. Thank you Governor Ronald Reagan, 30 years in the toilet of the school system that used to be the best in the Nation.

  • Are you doing the training in San Diego? Have they lifted the ban on rattlesnake avoidance training since last summer? I’ve got a TON of clients looking for this that I can send their way. Two thumbs up for rattlesnake avoidance classes!

    • The ban in general remains, but this group was given a special exemption and permit when hordes of dog owners descended on city council to protest the stupidity of the ban.

  • Can you dictate ideas or random thoughts into a recorder? Is there an app to convert voice to text (if there isn’t, there should be!). Only two and a half more months (minus spring break) to go!
    Looked at the Natural Solutions website and am suitably impressed.

  • Amy Sunnergren

    I hear you. I do 2 hours each way. But I don’t want my 90 year old mother living by herself, so that’s what I have to do. It is also why I found your blog…I can’t have a dog with this type of commute, and my Mother doesn’t want anymore pets, because she can’t stand to have another animal die (Ma, just how old are you again? I know your grand father lived to 110, but really now…yeah, she’ll live to 110.) So this way I have a pet, vicariously. And I cry with each of your losses. I just don’t get the tail wag and happy face when I get home.

  • Cathey

    Well, I see II’m the odd duck out here. I LOVE driving, but then in Iowa, I can drive 65-70 and be at my job in 23 minutes – no traffic snarls – what counts as a traffic jam is 5 cars stopped at the stop sign in front of the school, letting kids cross the street! And while “No Child Left Behind” has made Iowa schools LESS efficient, I did’t have to worry about where my son was going. Sounds to me like you are coping very well with a rotten, but thank goodness, temporary situation. Take heart, we out here in blog-reading-land, know you have a life to fit in around the blog, so hang in there and when the ‘end of school’ party happens, I’ll bring the margaritas! Oh, and Natural Solutions sounds like a great group, but thankfully, rattlesnakes are found only in 1 county about 2 hours away from me. I, too, hate snakes!!

  • Amy Sunnergren

    By the by, I love that shot of Brody. He looks very concerned that he avoid that snake – or at least stay out of striking distance.