"It wears on you," the 34-year-old said. "When we get to the weekend, I avoid driving at all cost. My wife is driving everywhere."
NASA. But he got bored with the city and few years ago moved to Baltimore. Now his commute can take as long as two hours — one way.
"I did it for the adventure. I like the experience," he says. "You never know what will happen next."
Buffington rides his Harley-Davidson Road King from Pigtown to the MARC train station at BWI airport. He sits in the quiet car where, he said, a bite into a crisp apple can draw glares. Buffington uses this time to study for a master's degree in aeronautical science.
After emerging from Union Station, "it's elbow to elbow" on the Metro, he said. Some days he works at NASA's Crystal City office, which means transferring from one Metro train to another and then walking a mile.
Despite long travel times, none of the workers interviewed would think of cutting their commute by moving to D.C.
"I have that natural Baltimore aversion for D.C.," said Minakowski, who grew up in the Baltimore area.
Some even point to the enjoyable aspects of commuting. They see the same people each day, conversations start and friendships bloom.
And, at least on the train, commuters can buy alcohol at Union Station to drink on the way home.
"Nine times out of 10 someone has a glass and is willing to share with you," said Branch, an occasional imbiber.
Experienced commuters advise newbies to try different routes before settling on a routine. And if they do take the train, Branch said, they should sit back and try to enjoy the ride.
"Don't get on and just complain," he said. "You can always meet a friend and the commute is as simple as 'I got to go to work and talk to my friend on the train.' That's all it needs to be."