Carolyn Cherry’s commute seems extreme, but it’s a sacrifice she continues to make so that her children have a home to live in. Carolyn, who is 60 years old and near retirement, commutes about six hours a day from her home in Hemet, to her job in Downtown Los Angeles as a clerical worker, and back to her home. What’s even more surprising is that Carolyn has been making the long distance commute from Hemet to Los Angeles for 16 years. She gets about four and a half hours of sleep on workdays, but gets every other Monday off because she works nine hour days. Carolyn states,
Nine hours of work and six hours of commuting. That’s my story. [My home has] two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a backyard and amenities I wouldn’t be able to afford in Los Angeles on my salary. I have no financial stress, whereas if I was in L.A. I’d live paycheck to paycheck. I didn’t want to live like that and I didn’t want my kids to see us living like that.
Carolyn’s workdays begin just before 3 a.m., and an hour later she is off on her approximately 23 minute drive to the South Perris Metrolink station to catch the 4:43 a.m. train. She rides the train for over two hours until it reaches its final stop, the Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, which usually arrives around 7:05 a.m. if there are no delays. Carolyn then goes to the Red Line to reach the Civic Center station to get to the L.A. County auditor controller’s office by 7:30 a.m. to begin work. Carolyn has tried to find work in Riverside or San Bernardino counties, but the pay is much lower and she would have to give up her seniority and benefits at the auditor controller’s office in Los Angeles County.
Carolyn is a divorced mother of two that used to live in Compton with her parents in the 1990s and she took care of them. However, she was worried about crime and the quality of schools in Compton so she and her husband at the time decided to move to Hemet in 2001 to take advantage of lower housing costs. Her current rent is just $800 a month and a home like hers would be two to four times as much in Los Angeles County. Carolyn’s children are grown now, have college degrees and jobs, and Carolyn is two years away from retirement. Her commute from her home to work and back is grueling, but it appears that her sacrifice has paid off for her and her children. There may be more people that commute long distances from their home to their work and back, it’s just one of those things that almost seem normal in California because of the cost of housing.