Here's a conversation tip. Almost no matter where you are, if you want to get a group of strangers talking, ask them about their commutes.

Everyone has an opinion. Either they're griping, or they're proud of how they've got it down to a science, or they're grinning and bearing it. 

Recently, however, reporters Shelly Hagan and Wei Lu at Bloomberg decided to settle definitively the question "Who has the worst commute?"

I like the way they approached it: They took the average cost of commuting in 800 U.S. counties, computed it as a percentage of income, and also calculated what proportion of workers have to leave before 6 a.m. to get to work on time.

Worst commutes? That honor, such as it is, goes to people living sort of near Washington, D.C. Seven of the 10 worst counties, and nine of the 20 worst, are all in the Washington area. Most of the commuters live in exurbs, as opposed to closer suburbs or in the city itself.

Exception, sort of: Richmond County, New York, which is Staten Island, 11th worst on the list. The number 1 worst accolade went to Charles County, Maryland, whose residents commute 50 miles to Washington.

You can find the list of 20 worst commutes below (and a lot more detail, including methodology, here).

1. Charles County, Maryland

2. Fauquier County, Virginia

3. Stafford County, Virginia

4. Contra Costa, California

5. Calver County, Maryland

6. Prince William County, Virginia

7. Spotsylvania County, Virginia

8. Frederick County, Maryland

9. Carroll County, Maryland

10. Sussex County, New Jersey

11. Richmond County, New York

12. Montgomery County, Texas

13. Plymouth County, Massachusetts

14. Loudoun County, Virginia

15. Prince Georges County, Maryland

15. (tied) Warren County, New Jersey

17. Matanuska-Sustina County, Alaska

18. Huntertown County, New Jersey

18. (tied) Snohomish County, Washington

20. Monmouth County, New Jersey

20. (tied) Solano County, California

For most of us, it means that at least we know one other place in the country that has it worse.

Unless you're among the maybe 2 percent of my readers who are from the Washington exurbs. In that case, the rest of the country offers you its condolences. 

Here's what else I'm reading today:

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