Couple Endures 'Commute From Hell' Each morning, scores of American workers leave their homes early only to be greeted by congested rush-hour traffic. Marc and Julie Turner, a couple from Charlottesville, Va., explain how their commute borders on the extreme.
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Couple Endures 'Commute From Hell'

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Couple Endures 'Commute From Hell'

Couple Endures 'Commute From Hell'

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And now we're going to talk about something that hits close to home for many of us.

Here's a theory, see if you agree. We all know that people lie about two things: sex and money. So I'm going to add a third: the length of their commute.

Well, commuter culture has been with us for a long time. In recent years, a new breed of commuter has emerged. Americans whose daily one-way trip to work takes 90 minutes or more. The Census Bureau calls them extreme commuters, and the bureau says they now number more than 3 million weary Americans.

Their experiences are the subject of the June 3rd cover story in the Washington Post Sunday magazine. In a bit, we'll talk with someone who studies extreme commuting. But first, with us now is one of the two couples profiled in that post-story, Marc and Julie Turner. They join us from a studio is Charlottesville, Virginia. Welcome.

Mr. MARCUS TURNER (Resident, Charlottesville, Virginia): Hi, Michel. Thank you.

Ms. JULIE TURNER (Resident, Charlottesville, Virginia): Thanks for having us, Michel.

MARTIN: And Marcus, I understand that you are a paralegal. You live in Charlottesville, but you were commuting 200 miles round trip each day to a northern Virginia suburb called Tyson's Corner. Is that right?

Mr. TURNER: That's correct.


Mr. TURNER: I think it was really a question of the type of work that I do. I'm a litigation paralegal, and that generally means that I'm working on larger, more complex cases. So first, when we moved to Charlottesville, I was commuting up to downtown D.C. for a couple of years.

MARTIN: Julie, when you were talking about whether Marc should take this job - and I assume you guys discussed it.

Ms. TURNER: Absolutely.

MARTIN: What do you think the impact on your lives would be?

Ms. TURNER: Impact can be viewed a lot of ways, so there's the happiness factor with what we do during the workday. I think joy in our work life is important. The evenings were the biggest impact, where, you know, dinner every night and getting to soccer or lacrosse or ballet, piano lessons. That all had to be worked carefully.

MARTIN: Marc, when did you typically leave the house, and when did you typically come home?

Mr. TURNER: Generally, we try and leave at 7:30 in the morning, drop off the boys at Catholic school before 8:00, and then I'd be on my way up to Tyson's by 8:00 and usually arrived around 10:00 and come home between 9:00 and 9:30.

MARTIN: So that was a what, 14-hour day?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. TURNER: I suppose it was.

MARTIN: Who's counting?

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Now you guys are being very cheery about this whole thing, but the article suggests that this experience places a real toll on each of you as individuals and as a family and on your marriage. Is that true?

Mr. TURNER: Oh, absolutely. I think that there's no getting around the fact that, you know, you're separated from your family by 100 miles. It's that physical distance. It puts a lot of distance, I think, in your family, both with your spouse and with your children.

MARTIN: At the end of the day, what did you learn from all this? Was it worth it?

Mr. TURNER: You know, I think it was. I enjoyed the experience that I've had. I think I've been lucky professionally to have good work and to be able to grow in that work.

Certainly, what I went through working in Washington and working in Tyson's Corner in Northern Virginia prepared me to take the job that I have here in Charlottesville. And it's definitely worthwhile. The people that I met and the work I did out there were very rewarding.

MARTIN: And if you have to do it all over again, would you?

Mr. TURNER: Oh, absolutely.

MARTIN: Julie?

Ms. TURNER: Absolutely. I think it's a good message to our kids that you have to do what you love. I think it's a good message to ourselves that we have to follow our passion, and you don't just have to punch a clock for something you hate.

MARTIN: Okay. Even if you do have to punch the steering wheel from time to time, huh?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. TURNER: Absolutely.

MARTIN: Julie and Marc Turner spoke to us from the studio at the University of Virginia Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia. Thank you both so much for talking with us.

Ms. TURNER: Thank you.

Mr. TURNER: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: For a link to the Washington Post Magazine article on extreme commuting that features the Turners, you can go to our Web site at

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