JR Francis commutes every weekday to his job at Silverpop in the Cumberland-Galleria area in northwest Atlanta. A longtime Cherokee County resident, he lives with his wife and their five children in the Sixes Road area. Francis talked with Canton-Sixes Patch about his commute.
Canton-Sixes Patch: What is your title?
Francis: UX Architect. I work on my company's web software to create new functionality to make sure it is easy to use, simple to understand, and designed in a pleasing, attractive way.
Canton-Sixes Patch: How long have you lived in Cherokee County?
Francis: I've lived in Cherokee County for 12 years.
Canton-Sixes Patch: How long have you commuted from Cherokee to Atlanta?
Francis: All 12 years. Since I transitioned from retail jobs during college to a full-time job, I have worked around Atlanta.
Canton-Sixes Patch: Why do you live in Cherokee when your job is in Atlanta?
Francis: The value of homes plus the quality of schools and retail shops just can't be matched. My wife and I have five kids, so a house with many bedrooms and a good backyard to play in is very important. That just isn't available for a remotely affordable price in Atlanta. I also love the new schools, new shops, clean facilities. I'm reminded how much I appreciate Cherokee County every time I venture out while in Atlanta or another outlying city.
Canton-Sixes Patch: What kind of car do you drive?
Francis: 2006 Mitsubishi Endeavor
Canton-Sixes Patch: How many miles were on the car when you bought it?
Francis: Found my Endeavor with an amazingly low number of miles for a two-year-old car: 17,500.
Canton-Sixes Patch: How many miles are on the car now?
Francis: Approaching 50,000.
Canton-Sixes Patch: What time do you leave home for work?
Francis: It varies depending (on) if I need to take the kids to school in the morning. I average leaving about 7 a.m.
Canton-Sixes Patch: How much time do you spend in the car in the morning?
Francis: It's amazing how different it can be with school in or out, and the random government holidays. It's about an hour and 10 minutes.
Canton-Sixes Patch: What time do you head home?
Francis: I try to get out of the office at 4:30 p.m.
Canton-Sixes Patch: How much time do you spend in the car in the evening?
Francis: It is right at an hour, unless I don't get out until closer to 5. Then, it can approach two hours.
Canton-Sixes Patch: What do you do to pass the time?
Francis: I frequently stop for a cappuccino on the way in, then it's time for Pandora from my Android phone through the Bluetooth connection on my car stereo. It's an amazing service playing me the music I love with no morning yapping from a morning zoo crew or any of that nonsense. I listen to a more mellow mix on the way to work, then a little harder rock on the way home. I'll talk to my wife about the day's plans quite often as well.
Canton-Sixes Patch: What is your worst commuter story/memory?
Francis: There was a wreck at 400-285 one morning many years ago when I was driving to Norcross. I sat in traffic for two hours and still hadn't made it to Roswell. I ended up going home and taking a personal day.
Recently, the snow and ice made it difficult for anyone to get anywhere. I am very lucky to work for a company that is very understanding and puts employee safety first. They closed the office two days, and allowed us to work from home for two more. I wish more employers across Atlanta were more reasonable like that. It was ridiculous for people to attempt driving Monday and Tuesday, but there they were, slipping and sliding all over the place.
I wish it was simpler to find car pool partners here in Cherokee. I have registered with the state, with the vanpools and nothing really fits my commute and my schedule. There has to be someone near me, even in my own subdivision, who is driving down 75 every day. It's just so hard to locate those people.
Canton-Sixes Patch: How often do you wish you lived closer to your job? How often do you think about what it would be like to live closer to your job?
Francis: I've gotten used to the commute, just as a fact of life. I don't really think about it much anymore. I worked a contract out of state a few years back and was staying in a hotel two minutes from the office. That was quite an amazingly short drive, but I like the time to get prepared for the upcoming day on the drive into work, and the time to de-stress on the way home.
Canton-Sixes Patch: If the county lured your company from Atlanta to Cherokee, would you jump at the opportunity to move with it? Or, are you content working in Atlanta?
Francis: I would love an opportunity to do what I do here in Cherokee County. I think a technology company would find Cherokee to be a great home with reasonable prices, and exceptional happy workers with brief commute times. I wish more companies would give it a shot. But as of yet, I haven't found any companies in the technology industry up this way.