By Carrie Hojnicki
NBC News intern
6:20 a.m. Alarm goes off. Snooze button pressed.
6:40 a.m. Get out of bed and into shower.
7:00 a.m. First cup of coffee.
7:20 a.m. Knock on roommate’s door to see if she’ll drive me to the train station. She wakes up and agrees. Seven dollars in cab fare saved.
7:50 a.m. Arrive at Poughkeepsie station. Purchase ticket, board train and promptly fall asleep.
8:40 a.m. Wake up and read the day’s headlines on my phone.
9:05 a.m. Fall back asleep
9:41 a.m. Arrive at Grand Central, wake up as doors open, realize I still need to put makeup on.
Distance traveled: 91 miles
While I have spent almost a year as a "super commuter," it wasn't until today that I learned such a title even existed. For me, spending upwards of two hours traveling to a place of employment has always been less of a shock and more of a given, something that just has to get done.
Perhaps it's the fact that my father has been doing it for years. First, it was driving from Rhode Island's coastline to his job in Hartford, Conn. As a child, visiting Dad's office for holiday parties felt like a vacation, a road-trip to a faraway place where license plates looked different and people were unfamiliar. But I didn't ask questions—this was what people with jobs did, I thought.
When my father was offered a job in Greenwich, Conn., his commute grew to three hours, and sometimes lasted even longer during heavy traffic on the I-95. After a month, even this was too much for the man who could and would spend a good 24 hours a week behind the wheel of his Ford sedan. Although we soon relocated to Connecticut, the super commute found its way back into our lives. Dad still drives 1.5 hours to get to work.
So when I was offered an internship at “NBC Nightly News”during the second semester of my senior year at Vassar College, the answer was simple. I would make the 2.5 hour commute work three days a week. Like father, like daughter.
I had done it before in 2010, when traveling to NBC's offices in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and I was prepared to do it again. I've now mastered the art of sleeping with my head against the window, of knowing where the train’s often hidden power outlets are and of calling just the right Poughkeepsie taxi driver to take me home at night.
But there are things I haven’t mastered during the commute, like studying. No matter how hard I try, doing an economics problem set while sitting next to a snoring stranger seems to be an unachievable feat, as does reading any heavily theoretical text under the fluorescent lights of Metro North.
The commute seems crazy to a lot of my friends, most of my family (excluding my father, of course) and even some of my coworkers. But as an aspiring journalist at a liberal arts college, the professional experience I’m gaining at NBC News is quite frankly indispensable. As I see it, the commute is just a small road bump to getting where I want to be.