A testimonial… names and some details changed at the request of the person who shared this story about decisions this family is making-- VERY committed Christians and churchgoers, by the way…
Peace in Christ,
As we are closer to leaving our current home for another, we are in the process of moving in with relatives temporarily for the summer, which puts us closer to our congregation but gives me an additional half hour of commuting to work. My total commute now is 1.5 hours on a dry pavement, no accident kind of day. That's roughly 72 miles round trip. Our congregation could not pay me for the work I have been doing on their behalf, but will graciously raise funds for a love offering to help speed us on our way in August, God bless them. This means much needed repairs will be made and additional gas funds will be secured before our adventure starts.
When I interviewed for a job 57 miles round trip from my home, my new boss raised my salary by 75 cents per hour to help out with the rising gas prices, then inching over 2.00 a gallon. Until recently, I have managed to make the most of my working hours while commuting, even hauling a cooler and doing my grocery shopping in that area for the most part. I even do my banking and other kinds of errands as I pass various businesses on the way out to the freeway access. I have been assigned mostly 9 hour shifts and the least I've worked since i hired in was 6 hours. In working this way, I knock two days off my commuting, sometimes three. I do not drive anywhere for pleasure driving, and often combine as many errands or trips as possible. One of my sons remarked that we no longer just "go for a drive" to see the fall colors, to the beach or anywhere else. He is correct, unfortunately.
As for attending church, my congregation is 22 miles north of my home. There is a local congregation, but they are in the process of closing their doors, and have no younger families. My children needed to be where there was a youth program and things for them as well as myself. As gas prices went over the 3.00 a gallon mark, we cut one Sunday a month to save for a weekday ride into work. Now that gas prices are over 4.00 a gallon, we attend only twice a month, sometimes only once a month, depending on financial circumstances. I have had to cut my hours of church work as well.
And for all of you who might think I'm crazy for driving so much for work, where I live our local unemployment is well over 12%, and where I work the local unemployment is about 6.5 percent, which is an increase from the 4.3 percent that was their average last year. This area as a whole has not seen unemployment below the 5.7 percent mark since 2000. We have been in a downward spiral of foreclosures, personal and company bankruptcies, plant closings, supply manufacturers going out of business and no replacement for the jobs lost. There are more people leaving the area than there are U-Haul moving equipment to be used. There is no regional, county or city to city transportation system. If you are without a vehicle, you are marooned. If you cannot afford gas, you are marooned. If you are unlucky enough to be on public assistance and require transportation to doctor's visits, they can provide that one instance through the state. But not to the grocery, clothing stores or anything else, unless you're a senior citizen.
The heart of this region was based on automobile transportation and there has never, ever been a plan for regional public transit. We are all paying the price now. And we will continue to pay the price as long as metropolitan areas, county governments and state legislators cannot come up with a situation and a solution that the auto companies can either accept or ignore.
This is life for many people in the Midwest outside of any regional transportation systems.
Gas may be 4.65 a gallon where we're heading, but there are jobs paying twice as much as they are here, and boatloads of opportunities that simply ceased to exist here in the last five years or more. With our food prices rising, our grocery bill will not increase greatly when we change locations, nor will our utility or rent payments. With the exception of gas, there is not much difference in prices anymore between the where we are now and where we are going. Of course, this move does allow me and my spouse to live in the same place at last, and that is the best of all.