From A To B: Driving And The Daily Grind (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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From A to B: Driving and the Daily Grind

MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR

13:33:49
For a lot of us here in D.C. where we have the second worst traffic in the country, the most grueling part of the workday can be the commute. But at least we have the consolation that eventually, somehow the nightmare will end and we will get to work. But what if work is driving? That's the topic of our weekly transportation segment, "From A to B."

MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR

13:34:18
Transportation reporter, Jim Hilgen is new to Washington and our legendary traffic. So for his "Metro Connection" debut, he checks in with some people who spend a lot of time on the road to hear how they do it.

MR. JIM HILGEN

13:34:29
On a gray and rainy day in Washington, Steve Pizarro is managing the office at Capitol Hill Delivery, near the Navy yard. Laid off from his job as an IT support specialist last February, Pizarro now makes his living as a courier, sometimes by bike, usually in a car.

MR. STEVE PIZARRO

13:34:47
You pretty much deal with gridlock in the city all day long so it's very difficult to get around in a car.

HILGEN

13:34:54
Pizarro's commute used to take him from his home in Alexandria to his job in Rockville and it wasn't long before the commute left a lot to be desired.

PIZARRO

13:35:02
You know, after the first week or so of sitting in that traffic, I mean, I would literally call anybody who would listen to me to just set an ear to complain about how horrible and soul crushing the traffic was, on a daily basis.

HILGEN

13:35:18
This is how Pizarro coped with the lack of movement on the roadways, in those days.

PIZARRO

13:35:23
I stopped getting on the Beltway after a while. I would work my way back to Alexandria through back roads to try to avoid the traffic. As long as I didn't have to sit in the gridlock, it seemed -- as long as the car was still moving, it seemed everything would be okay.

HILGEN

13:35:40
Today, Pizarro is still making his way around the area roadways delivering packages and enjoying it and what he views as the freedom that comes with the work. He says there's a certain type of person who gravitates toward courier work.

PIZARRO

13:35:54
They're a more free spirited group, not a lot of khaki's and polo shirts running around in that group.

HILGEN

13:36:00
Pizarro says he's recently turned down several job offers in IT. So why does a guy with a tech background choose to drive for a living?

PIZARRO

13:36:10
Because I wasn't happy doing that. I have a -- this is me personally, nothing to do with -- I have an entrepreneurial spirit. I've had some ideas that I'm able to get off -- that I've wanted to get off the ground, been able to work here and it's giving me the time to do it.

HILGEN

13:36:26
Pizarro sympathizes with people who slog through the daily commute and says he'd still be doing so if he had the responsibility of a family to support. But in driving for a living, there's one area he dreads having to face.

PIZARRO

13:36:41
Up Wisconsin Avenue. Having to go up or down Wisconsin, for whatever reason, anytime of day, heading up from the city, from Georgetown, let's say, up to Bethesda.

HILGEN

13:36:55
If I come out of here and I say I want to go somewhere to you, where do you not want to go?

MR. DENNIS CLARK

13:37:00
Dulles Airport. Dulles Airport because of the 66 traffic. At 1:30 in the afternoon, it's backed up until 4 o'clock, it doesn't clear up until the HOV starts.

HILGEN

13:37:12
That's Dennis Clark sitting in his cab outside Union Station on a recent sunny morning. After a little extra thought, Clark offers more an answer to that question.

CLARK

13:37:22
Up 270, that's twice as bad as going out 66 toward Dulles. That is the worst place, Montgomery County.

HILGEN

13:37:30
Clark proudly proclaims that he's one in a long line of D.C. cab drivers.

CLARK

13:37:35
I'm a third generation Washington cab driver. My family came from North Carolina. My first two uncles, after they got out of World War II, they were the first cab drivers in our family. I’m a third generation. I'm seventh in the last of three generations.

HILGEN

13:37:51
While Clark says his job has plenty of financial pitfalls, it's the only life for him. As for those who grouse about their daily commute...

CLARK

13:38:00
You don’t have much to complain about because when you get in your cubicle, you're fine. And if you don't like driving, that -- you know, that's the best place for you.

HILGEN

13:38:09
As Clark sees it, people working in offices, stores and other businesses have the luxury of being able to choose other ways to get to their jobs.

CLARK

13:38:18
You live along the metro line, bus lines, you have alternatives. I have no alternative. I drive for a living. So I can't afford a DUI, DWI. I've lost my job. I have no alternative transportation.

HILGEN

13:38:33
Clark's not immune to the same negative feelings that daily commuters face saying that a person who drives for a living needs to love it and he does. I'm Jim Hilgen.
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