If quality of life matters, then this is the place to be

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I have had the opportunity in my lifetime to work for several national companies, and have lived in quite a few places within the US.

My temporary homes have included Baltimore, Md.; Washington D.C.; Chicago; Orlando, Fla.; and San Francisco. The reason I mention this background is to tell you about southern Ohio from the viewpoint of a seven-year transplant.

When I lived in Chicago (12 years) I lived in the suburbs and commuted into the city daily.

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Most often I took the commuter train, but occasionally drove into the city. The trains ran on time, but commuting had its issues.

First, you had to get to the station early, there were never enough close parking spaces, and in a Chicago winter a three block walk to reach your parked car was no fun. So you would get to the lot no later than 6:15 in the morning for the 6:32 express train. If you miss the express, the next train takes twice as long to get to the city because it stops at every station on the way.

Usually I would reach downtown by 7:14 a.m. and then exit Union Station and either get a bus to the office or walk.

I always walked. The walk would get me to the office by about 7:40 a.m., when I needed to be there before 8 a.m. — just enough time to get some coffee and settle in to work.

Take my word, driving is far worse than the train, and a lot more expensive. It’s not a good option unless you love sitting in traffic and searching for a $20 parking spot nine blocks from your office.

The evening commute was an exact replica of the morning commute. Only one change really, and that was the danger of the nap. You see, a nap on the outgoing train could result in an end-of-the-line experience.

One of my office pals one winter day took the nap while returning on the late train (10 p.m.)

His wife was waiting at the station for him, in robe and slippers, keeping the car warm with the heater blasting, only to see the train stop and no husband get off. Perplexed, she returned home.

About an hour later her husband called. He was in the last stop town, about 20 miles away, where the conductor wakes you up and makes you get off the train before it is cleaned for its morning return run.

As usual for him, he had about $3 and no way to afford a cab home, and the train was no longer running. His wife had to drive to the other town and pick him up. They were not a happy couple that night.

The unfortunate part was that he did the same thing a month later. It was years before it became a funny story.

I tell you all of this to express how great it is to live here. When I commuted to the university to work it took 15 minutes to drive to the campus. If there were more than two cars in front of me at a light, it was a traffic jam.

Lunch? Never have I waited in line or paid $15 bucks for an overpriced sandwich. The air is clean, the scenery is beautiful and everyone is friendly. Is this a great place, or what?

I know, we do not have everything we could want here, like bigger employers and more shopping, but, let me tell you, the trade-offs are all in our favor. Give me southern Ohio any day.

Jim Crawford is a local political enthusiast. He can be reached at drjim893@msn.com.