The Daily Commute

What’s the key to overcoming the often mundane task of commuting to work?

It’s the tie that binds the majority of working Americans. Every morning it’s there to greet you, reminding us yet again that we never really “punch-out” for the day, month, or year. Our inherent value as an employee is measured first and foremost by our ability to get to and from work in the most proficient means possible. My daily commute consists of a 136-mile round trip, departing daily from Elko, MN. Joining me on this excursion is my co-pilot Brett Gjovik. However Brett’s functionality is not limited to mere navigation. He also serves as co-worker, friend, therapist, mechanic, and master deer spotter.

If our commute were a movie script, Top Gun would be the obvious choice. However, instead of fighter jets and speeds approaching Mach 4, we’re sitting in the cock-pit in a pair of fully-charged Honda Civic Sedans. We’ve never broken the sound barrier but we have hit 78 to 79 mph consistently when the wind’s at our backs and Brett hasn’t turned on his ECON button, which insures better fuel economy in exchange for camel-like acceleration. Is there anything remotely positive about spending 2 hours and 9 minutes in a car every single weekday with the same person for more than 8 years? Absolutely, I’d like to introduce you to my new favorite pastime while driving.

Little did I know prior to Brett gaining permission to come aboard the Civic back in the spring of 2005, there were piles of deer roaming the fields up and down I-35 in southern Minnesota. From 2001 through 2004 BB (Before Brett), the only deer I spotted were the unfortunate few being scraped off the interstate. There was also a buck I laid claim to in the fall of 2003 that I thought was alive; however upon observing him in the same spot for more than two weeks I realized he was either a decoy or suffering from acute rigor mortis, which meant I still hadn’t seen a living, breathing deer outside of the Minnesota Zoo.

Enter Brett “Dundee” Gjovik. I’ve come to the conclusion that contrary to the manufactured photos in Brett’s baby book, I believe strongly that he was indeed raised by a pack of four-legged ruminant mammals for a very short period of time during his childhood. Since Brett’s arrival it’s been a 12-month Deer-a-palooza, sightseeing extravaganza, which hits its apex every October and November. What makes October and November so special? Apparently that timeframe is referred to as “the rut” by deer hunting enthusiasts. From what I can gather, it’s not all that dissimilar to an epic Spring Break trip south of the border. In layman’s terms, the males are looking to pass on the family name while the ladies play along, putting their hooves up to Beyoncé Knowles, “All the Single Does.” Regardless, it makes for some of the best deer-spotting opportunities all year long.

However the fun doesn’t stop with the deer, since 2005 AB (After Brett) I’ve witnessed that young man change six tires flawlessly, two of them in sub-zero temperatures. I credit myself for recognizing early on that Brett had a God given gift in this area. Therefore I’ve humbly stepped aside and accepted the role of Semi-Trailer Truck Communications Specialist. Basically I take up a command post, which is positioned a safe distance from the interstate, and alert Brett if I see any suspicious semi’s bearing down on him or our beloved Civic. I’m happy to report we have a success rate of 100%, and for my sake I hope it stays that way. I hate driving alone.

What’s the key to overcoming the often mundane task of commuting to work? An exceptional wingman who laughs at all your jokes even though you both know it’s a regurgitated playlist of your best material from the last dozen years. Therefore after a combined 280,000 miles, eight speeding tickets, two 911 calls, three snow banks, and countless brushes with other inept drivers, I still can’t wait to get back on the road every Monday morning. However if you happen to cross paths with this dynamic duo on the interstate, consider yourself warned. We’ll be looking for deer. It might be in your best interest to stick to the back roads.

Marcus Ludtke graduated from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., in 2001 and started working for POET Risk Management in May of that year. His primary responsibilities include managing POET’s corn position and market research.




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