The Daily Yonder's coverage of rural economic issues, including workforce development and the future of work in rural America, is supported in part by Microsoft.
A sunset seen on the road between Carroll and Glidden in Iowa.
Photo: Jeff Storjohann, Carroll Daily Times Herald
CARROLL, Iowa — In promoting rural Iowa we talk a lot about what we have.
There are the good schools.
There’s the work ethic.
We have many churches, and few serious crimes. There are more soup suppers than armed robberies.
All of these things are splendid.
But it’s time we talked about something we Carroll residents generally don’t have: a commute. Yes, we have many employees in the city from outlying towns, but the majority of working-age Carroll residents are able to live, work and play in the city limits.
As a result of our minutes-only drives to and from work we literally have more time in our days than others in the nation and the state for that matter.
As a former resident of the Washington, D.C., area I did the commuting thing for four years.
It took me about 45 minutes to get to work on Capitol Hill, and at least 45 minutes to get home to the Virginia suburbs.
Now, I can get from Hillcrest Drive in Carroll’s Rolling Hills to my job at the Daily Times Herald newspaper in less than five minutes.
That means I have about 80 minutes more each day or 400 minutes more a week or 1,600 minutes more a month or 20,000 more minutes a year — than I did in Washington, D.C.
That’s 333 hours each year that I get back by living in a place where I don’t have to commute.
That’s eight weeks of work at 40 hours per week.
That’s astounding. Why aren’t more employers locating their offices here? Computers and phones work as well in Iowa as they do in New York City.
Our recruiting motto could be: “Move to Iowa: We give you eight more weeks of work.”
There are advantages in one’s personal life as well.
Since I’m not commuting, I can watch 166 more movies each year.
I can read a lot more books.
Let’s see, if I read at the very reasonable pace of 30 pages per hour, I can read twenty 500-page books in a year instead of sitting in traffic.
Those would be good books.
Throw in some paperback fiction and that number increases dramatically.
Think about how smart your kids would be if you had an extra 80 minutes to read to them and talk to them each and every working day of the week.
What about exercise?
Instead of spending that time inching along in traffic or standing next to someone with a bad cough on the subway like they do in the cities, I can run six miles a day at the leisurely pace of 11 minutes a mile and then have 14 minutes to do some sit-ups and pull-ups.
And who says that all this time has to be spent efficiently and wisely?
Some people could look at that 80 minutes a day as an opportunity to watch more basketball and football on television, or eat more pizza or drink more beer.
I couldn’t understand any of that, though.
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who writes for the Carroll Daily Times Herald, a Hawkeye State publication owned by his family.