The 5 Objectively Worst Commutes in the World
Nobody likes work. Sure, you’ll hear tales of “dream jobs” and platitudes about “doing what you love,” but those are, as far as I can tell, just designed to get you through college without having a full existential meltdown. When it comes down to it, the fact is that one of the most central parts of a job is Having to Do Something, a requirement that sours in the brain of even the most type-A personality.
To add insult to injury is that many jobs require not only that you Do Stuff, but that you travel somewhere in order to do those very things. Even though working from home is more and more prevalent now after the pandemic, the terror that is a commute has managed to climb once again onto the back of the working man to eat away at their energy and sanity. Some commutes, though, make a podcast in an air-conditioned gridlocked car seem downright heavenly.
Here are five of the objectively worst commutes in the world…
Mponeng Gold Miner
A two-and-a-half mile commute doesn’t seem too bad, except when that two-and-a-half miles is straight down toward the earth’s core. That is precisely the trip you’ll be taking if you work in the world’s deepest mine, the Mponeng Gold Mine in South Africa. Every day, on your way to try to eke a couple ounces of gold out of solid earth, you’ll take two separate elevators directly down into the mines, and then traverse one last elevator-less stretch under your own power.
Now, dropping yourself down into the depths every single day doesn’t exactly seem like a recipe for high morale. It probably feels like more of a literal representation of the dread you feel in a regular old run-of-the-mill elevator heading to a job that you hate. In addition to the gathering, crushing darkness, though, it also gets hotter and hotter over the course of that commute as you get closer to the earth’s core. The temperature of the rock at the bottom of the mine can hit 140 degrees, an environment that is fully impossible to work in. Luckily, they use a cooling system to get those numbers down to a balmy 85 degrees, perfect for back-breaking physical labor!
Radio Tower Technician
If you’ve seen a radio tower blipping away in the distance at night, you might wonder, does that light ever go out? Immediately followed by the thought, if it does, it must be a real bitch to change. Congratulations, as your intuition is absolutely correct on both counts. Those bulbs at the tippy-top of radio towers do indeed need changing, and it is, indeed, a bitch of a job.
Radio tower technicians, or radio climbers, are the ones saddled with this high-stakes job, which requires two distinct commutes. The first is much closer to the kind you might know, heading out to the work site in question via their preferred vehicle, king-size coffee in cupholder to chase out the last of sleep’s cobwebs. The second is the one that you couldn’t pay most people to make, hence the high wages, reportedly around $20,000 per climb. That’s 1,500 feet straight up on a glorified fucking ladder, with 60 mile an hour winds for good measure. Not much traffic up there at least.
As someone who suffers from thalassophobia, i.e., fear of deep water, this one is an absolute personal nightmare. The same way that massively tall towers require maintenance, so do human-made bits existing deep beneath the sea. Commercial divers are the ones who head down to check, build and repair these sunken mechanisms, and saturation divers are the ones working at the deepest depths of all.
The fact that we’re talking about heading hundreds of feet under the ocean adds a particularly unpleasant wrinkle: the pressure that comes with those depths. Decompression is a dangerous thing, as plenty of ghosts from the building of the Brooklyn Bridge can tell you. In order to work efficiently, saturation divers spend long periods living in compression chambers on the surface that mimic the deep sea, meaning that even when they’re technically topside, they can’t enjoy the fresh air on risk of death. On top of all that are their regular trips down into the pitch-black depths of the ocean in a diving bell, a vehicle that feels specifically designed to cause a nervous breakdown.
Mount Everest Sherpa
This one’s fun, since really, the commute and the job are one and the same. Sherpa, in addition to being an incredibly comfortable jacket lining, is also a grueling and dangerous job, most popularly associated with Mount Everest. Most people will never climb Everest, and the ones that do and make it back with their life and all their tootsies intact will probably check that box and not plan on a return visit.
Sherpas, on the other hand, make that dangerous ascent their business, and to make it even harder, have to do so while worrying about the safety of whatever jag-off they’re toting up there. It’s basically the most dangerous babysitting job in the world. As if death and bodily harm wasn’t enough to make the trip highly unpleasant, there’s also the fact that these days, you’re likely stuck with some rich fuckhead paying out the nose for a fake cap-feather.
Destroying the One Ring in Mount Doom
Hey, if your commute can fill roughly nine hours of high-quality cinema, it’s a pretty special one. I don’t think anyone would argue Frodo didn’t particularly enjoy it either. All I’m saying is, if I ever get a delivery job where the item I’m in charge of is constantly pursued by any brand of Wraiths, I’m out.