Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Power Commuting

"Behind every successful rancher is a good woman...with a job in town." Everyone who knows anything about the cattle market. 

I don't normally talk much about my town job because it's the kind of work that makes most people go cross-eyed with boredom. I am a medical coder and biller. I spend my days at a computer, translating doctor's notes into insurance claims then doing everything in my power to see that they get paid, which includes reading reams of Medicare and Medicaid rules and...

Yeah, I see you there in the back, dozing off.

You may have realized by now that we live some distance from Cut Bank, our nearest town, with 'some' being equal to 55 miles, the first twelve of which are gravel roads. I drive those miles every working day, just under an hour each way when the roads are good. Extreme, you might think, but many of the city folks I know spend easily as much time getting to and from work. I'm willing to bet my commute is a lot less stressful, and a whole lot more scenic.

As frustrating as it can be to waste two hours a day on the road, I try to keep the whining to a minimum (excuse me while I reach over and whack that smirk off my husband's face). It's part of the package when you choose to live out in the sticks. It hadn't occurred to me that my commuting situation could go from bearable to ridiculous.

In the middle of December my boss calmly informed us that we were assuming management of a medical clinic in Great Falls. And we'd be making the hundred and ten mile drive at least two days a week. From Cut Bank. Which is, as I believe I mentioned, already some distance from my house. For those of you counting on your fingers...yes, you are correct. I now commute 165 miles each way. And the last hundred miles is one of the most boring stretches of road in the state of Montana. 

Yee haw. 

There is some good news. In order to avoid overtime, we depart and arrive at the home office during normal business hours as much as possible, so I'm not actually working longer. And I'm a passenger for the Cut Bank to Great Falls stretch, so I'm not behind the wheel any more than before. Since I am lucky enough not to suffer from motion sickness, I can catch up on my reading. But still...

Map courtesy of the fine folks at gonorthwest.com, who'll help you plan a great Montana vacation. 

I got an email a couple of weeks ago saying how I could make thousands of dollars working from home, stuffing envelopes. I wonder if that offer is still open? 



Ron Scheer said...

Thanks for this, and I didn't doze off. Having retired from a lifetime of commuting that started with 12 miles to school every day over mostly gravel country roads, I feel for you. My last commute was a weekly 120 miles each way, half by interstate and half by train (with a shuttle to/from the train), I'm thinking I got off pretty easy.

Joelle said...

Wow. I live on an island that is 2 miles wide by 6 miles long. The people at one end complain about having to drive to the other for groceries and library books!

Happy New Year and Happy reading during all those hours.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Ron: I'll take my gravel road over an LA freeway any day.

Joelle: I would DIE of claustrophobia on an island that small. We have pastures bigger than that.

Simon Hay said...

I love the photo of the moon & mountains. I worked on a 3000 hectare property (30k sheep & 5k cattle) in New zealand. We drove 40 minutes to get to the pub & roadhouse & another 40 to get to the tourist city of Lake Taupo. Scenic & cold in winter. I rolled the car driving home from a long weekend of partying. At the time I was the 26th single vehicle accident on the gravel road.
I'm in Australia now & driving somewhere for 2 hours is common. I drove that many hours/day for 10 years commuting to work. I subcontracted to plumbers and laid sewerage pipework.
Now I'm a medium & a healer. I still miss farming. Thanks for the story. Happy New Year.

mscriver said...

Kari, time to investigate Audible books. On an iPod you can put on the headphones and close your eyes to cruise through one exciting story after another.

My secret for that "boring 100 miles" to Great Falls is geology. Of course, by now there may be calves. Never boring.

Prairie Mary
Valier, MT

Kari Lynn Dell said...


I am a huge fan of audio books. I even listen at my desk at work when I'm doing the monotonous stuff. I check mine out from my library via Montana Library to Go.

Joelle said...

Kari, Have you listened to Telegraph Days by Larry McMurtry? It's such a brilliant audio book...I mean, the book is great, but the audio really brings it to life. And it's really, really long, too! Perfect for your commute.

Kari Lynn Dell said...


I haven't. I've looked at the book but can't remember what it's about now. McMurtry and I have a troubled relationship. I recognize the brilliance of his writing, but I have this annoying preference for happy endings, while he takes great joy in killing my favorite people and making sure everyone is mostly miserable. I even wrote a blog post in his honor, way back. It's called the Fatal Wave.

Joelle said...

That's hilarious. I honestly can't remember how Telegraph Days ends, but I know I loved it. I too am a happy ending kinda girl, but occasionally do like McMurtry. I think The Evening Star is by far the WORST book I've ever read. I couldn't stop reading it though because it was like a car wreck. I just kept thinking "This is truly a horrible, horrible book. How much worse could it get?" And it just kept getting more awful!

GCHS Events said...

Joelle: You've gotta give him credit, the man has an amazing range. Often depressing, but still amazing.