The 6 Most Terrifying Work Commutes in the World
It is a scientific fact that everyone in the world either has a shitty commute now, had one in the past or is going to get one in the immediate future. But no matter how crappy your journey to your job is or how many hobos you have to fight on the subway, there's always someone out there who has it even worse. These are those people.
After all, they must survive ...
You'd think that living within walking distance of your job would automatically disqualify you from bitching about your commute. Yeah, well, not if the one thing between your house and the place you work looks like this:
No, that's not a screen capture from the "none shall pass" scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- it's an actual photo of a bridge located in the Hussaini village at Gilgit-Baltistan, which is a region of either northern Pakistan or Kashmir, depending on who you ask (apparently both sides are really keen on taking credit for this impressive work of architecture). But the point is, the village itself is located on both banks of the Hunza River: On one side are the actual houses, on the other is the farmland where the villagers work, and in the middle is this bullshit series of wooden planks held together by a combination of twine and hope.
So, that thing lies between the workers and their jobs.
If you're wondering why the Pakistani government hasn't helped these poor farmers out, it totally tried to, but nature had other plans. Back in 1986, the government set aside funds to build a perfectly normal, nonscary bridge ... which was destroyed within the year thanks to the winter winds and the monsoon season.
"But surely this rope bridge will withstand the coming storm."
That's right, the wind tore apart the goddamned bridge. The locals were forced to make their own bridges again, and they periodically build new ones when the old ones are destroyed. Sometimes they leave the shattered remains hanging there as a fun reminder of what could happen to the current bridge at any moment should the wind decide to murder it. This goes to show that all the money and fancy bridges in the world won't do you any good if nature hates you.
Watch this video of a guy crossing the Hussaini bridge (starts at 2:15) and notice how violently everything starts shaking once the wind gets going. That camera he was using had to be a rental otherwise, any sane man would have dropped that bitch into the water at around 3:00.
The one thing we don't understand is why the farmers don't simply move their homes to the other side of the river and live closer to the farmland -- although the mere thought of having to haul all our shit across this thing is enough to give us vertigo.
You couldn't take more than one stereo speaker at a time without everything falling apart.
Yungas Road (aka Death Road)
For some of you, having an encounter with a careless driver who almost makes you drive off the road is actually a bit of a relief, because it means you have a guaranteed topic of conversation with your dad and extended family for the next two months. Other people, however, don't find this type of encounter so amusing, especially in instances where "going off the road" means "falling to certain death." Like the truckers who have to go on Yungas Road every day:
Yungas Road connects the trucking routes among the cities of La Paz, Coroico and Chulumani in Bolivia, so you've got trucks from three different places converging in that extremely limited space you see up there. The locals call it El Camino de la Muerte or, "Death Road," which sounds like something Dolph Lundgren might have starred in during the 90s. It's estimated that the road takes between 200 and 300 lives every year (also like Dolph Lundgren), which is why in 1995 it was declared the most dangerous in the world."
One wrong move on Yungas Road and you could be plummeting thousands of feet down the guardrail-less cliff face. Even with no wrong moves, you could still end up crushed under a sudden rockslide. And then there's the drivers: Some of these people drive on Yungas Road every single day of their lives, so at this point they've literally lost their capacity for fear. Apparently the first rule of Death Road is that the vehicle going downhill never has the right of way, which means that if it don't pull over, it risks getting pushed off the road by the other guy.
The second rule of Death Road? There are no rules.
Seriously, take a look at this video of a car going downhill and watch how (starting at around 2:25) the driver is constantly having to pull aside to let the trucks going uphill take the road.
The Bolivian government has tried to make Yungas Road safer, but unfortunately there's not a whole lot that can be done. In 30 years of constant work, they've only managed to make a few parts slightly wider, and they bypassed one section of North Yungas Road back in 2006. But hell, even if you could add several feet to the thing, vehicles would just start driving on it three across.
Travel by catapult may be the safest solution here.
The Lineman's Crawl
Unlike some of the more exotic entries on this list, the lineman's crawl (or at least the most ball-shatteringly terrifying portion of it) takes place somewhere you probably see every day: the wires of a high-voltage power line. The difference is that you're only looking at those power lines from the comfort of your car, while other people have to get up on top of them.
He's laughing because you're a pussy.
Yep, part of these guys' daily routine involves crawling between one power post and the next, 100 feet above the ground, performing maintenance on the wires while thousands of volts run over their bodies (more on that in a moment). And how do they get up there? Sitting on the side of a helicopter, because that's literally the only method of transportation sufficiently badass for them.
If you look closely, you'll notice he's doing a crossword puzzle.
See, in the fast-paced world of today, people can't stand the thought of having their electricity shut off for a few hours so that routine maintenance can be performed -- for most of us, the idea that we could have a toaster strudel at any time is the only thing keeping us sane. So that vital maintenance has to be performed while the wires are still live, as this video demonstrates:
To survive the insane amounts of electricity, linemen have to wear flexible metal mesh suits that divert the volts around their bodies. But that's not all: Remember at the beginning of the video, when the lineman touches the wires using a metal rod? He's not doing that to pretend he's Harry Potter (at least not exclusively), but rather because he needs to "charge" himself with the same potential as the wire before mounting it. If the helicopter overshoots even a little during that process, it could come into contact with the wrong wire and turn both the lineman and the pilot into a pile of ashes. Making sure this doesn't happen involves an amazing amount of coordination between pilot and lineman, like some sort of extreme high-voltage ballet.
It's kinda like The Nutcracker, except in this version, your balls are fried by electricity.
When "hanging from the side of a helicopter" qualifies as the least scary part of your commute, you know it might be time to start looking for another job. But don't think all shitty commutes belong to people with extreme jobs or living in poor countries ...
Imagine being deliberately shoved against other people so hard that within a few minutes, you've completely forgotten what it was like to be able move or breathe or experience happiness, as your body is slowly crushed by a giant mass of flesh and bones (and boners). For some in Tokyo, this is known as "going to work."
See those guys pushing people into a crowded train with impunity, while everyone else stands and watches? Well, they're doing that because it's their job: They're called oshiya, which literally translates as "train pushers." Yes, in Japan, there is a word for "person who stuffs trains with human bodies." Train pushers are usually strong and intimidating and they take their job description pretty seriously, as you can see here:
The fact that the Japanese government deems it necessary to pay workers to cram more people into trains is the result of a complex set of socioeconomic factors. Houses in Tokyo are really, really expensive -- like $45,000 per square meter expensive, on average. So while there are "only" about 13 million people living in Tokyo proper, there are tens of millions more living on the outskirts who have to commute to the city every single day.
They had to use fire hoses and riot guns to clear the platform off enough to take this picture.
Consider how excruciatingly fucking tedious traffic jams must be in Tokyo that people would rather subject themselves to the humiliation of being pushed into a train full of sweaty body parts than drive to work. And yes, creepy hobos with persistent stenches also exist in Japan, and they also use the subway as their personal offices.
Incidentally, "Poo Man on the Run" was the name of our funk band in college.
Tokyo authorities have stated that they plan to reduce train capacity to "only" 150 percent, which makes us think they need to rethink their math (or build bigger trains). Also, we weren't joking when we mentioned boners earlier: Train-groping (as in groping someone in a train, not fondling the train itself) is a real thing, and despite the anime industry's best efforts to romanticize it, it is a serious problem in Tokyo.
Shockingly, real-life women seldom enjoy sexual harassment.
Tokyo train-riders have a pretty accurate name for this whole experience: They call it tsukin jigoku, or "commuter hell." Actually, being shoved, immobilized and sexually harassed sounds exactly like our idea of hell.
Tower climbers are exactly what they sound like: Dudes who get on top of very tall towers to fix stuff, because someone has to. So how do they get to work? By climbing a tower.
Bet you didn't see that coming.
Actually, they ride most of the way up in an elevator and only have to climb about 200 feet by themselves. Unfortunately, those 200 feet happen to be positioned at the very top of these extremely tall broadcasting towers -- like those on the (former) Sears Tower, whose tallest spot is located more than 1,700 feet above the ground (not a good place to be in a city known for being windy). Add to this the fact that tower climbers have to carry bags filled with assloads of tools (weighing around 30 pounds), because if it turns out they need a wrench or something, it's a pain in the ass to have to go all the way down to fetch it.
This is right about the time your taint would start to itch.
But it gets worse: As if the job wasn't scary and dangerous enough by itself, tower climbers apparently feel the same way we do about their commutes -- the faster they can get them over with, the better. For you, this means running a few yellow lights; for tower climbers, getting to work faster involves ditching some essential precautions and "free climbing" massive sections of the tower without any protection. Sometimes, they even film themselves doing that for your enjoyment:
Do not watch this video if you have a heart condition. Seriously.
We can tell by the narrator's disturbingly calm voice that he wasn't actually watching the video while he was talking, because it is impossible to see it and not lose your shit at least a little. The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) also lost its shit when this video went online, forcing the site that originally posted it to delete it ... even though OSHA guidelines appear to be cool with free climbing as long as it's done under ideal conditions (that is, without a camera recording the whole process to be uploaded on YouTube).
Zip-Lining to School
This one beats all the other commutes on this list simply because it isn't done just by adults -- in fact, it's mostly done by children. Impossibly badass little children who zip-line across mountains to get to school.
Their teacher must be extremely hot.
These kids live in Colombia, in a remote outpost called Los Pinos (pronounced "Lost Penis" according to the following video):
The Colombian government hasn't built a bridge across the ravine separating the village from the nearby town (where the only school is located) because they literally cannot be arsed to -- since they say not enough people live there. Well, maybe that has to do with the fact that there's a huge freaking ravine right in front of them. If they want to get anywhere, the inhabitants have only two options: a two-hour hike across rocky terrain or a one-minute zip-line ride. Sure, the zip-line is much faster, but would you be willing to take that risk, especially if there were children involved? Think about it.
"Eh, fuck it."
While zip-lining is a relatively safe practice and lots of people do it for fun, consider the fact that tourist zip lines are periodically checked by experts, while no one gives a shit about Los Pinos, so the villagers have to perform all the maintenance themselves. Also, we're not talking about bored thrill-seeking dudes here -- we're talking about little children, and they have to do this twice a day, every day. And that's not all: See this adorable little girl carrying a burlap sack with her?
She looks like she could drop-kick six lumberjacks without breaking stride.
What could possibly be in there that's worth adding the extra weight? Books? Food? Some sort of parachute ...?
Nope, that's her little sister. And yes, they make that trip daily. So next time your grandpa starts whining about how he walked uphill to get to school when he was a kid, show him this goddamned article.
For more ridiculous means of transportation, check out The 8 Most WTF Ideas In the History of Transportation and 6 Transportation Innovations More Baffling Than The Segway.
And stop by Linkstorm to learn about the rigorous trek Cracked staffers make to work everyday (in the rare occurrence they have an actual place to live).
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