What it’s like to commute from Seattle to San Francisco

Three and a half years of this. 80+ flights. And you’re still chasing the startup dream.

The alarm goes off at 4 a.m. on Monday. Damn, still didn’t get to bed on time last night and only slept 5 hours. You roll out of your platform IKEA bed and turn on the light, covering half of it with a pillow so your husband can sleep in.

Your suitcase is always half-packed. You put nicer clothes in it than you normally wear. All your toiletries are less than 3 oz because checking luggage is a waste of time. You toss in some random clothing items as you’re getting dressed. Shoes, socks, pants.

The cat is annoyed that you’re not feeding him right away. Sorry, Potus, one last Slack message to your teammate in Argentina about a broken website. – Hey the client noticed that the buttons don’t work can you please check the destination URL – Thank God that team is online at 4 a.m. You toss a day’s worth of cat food into the automatic feeder and set it.

You steam up some almond milk and grind beans to pull a double espresso. That’s prepped on the counter. Your husband’s alarm goes off. It’s 4:45. Shit late again.

As you’re leaving Microsoft land for Apple land, you power down your huge custom-built PC in the home office and toss your MacBook into your backpack. – No, the button for the e-commerce shop still doesn’t work on mobile. – I see it on desktop but I’m still not seeing it on my phone. – Okay, let me refresh. – Yeah that’s better thanks.

Its 5:01. You pack the last few electronics in your backpack and zip everything up. Your husband’s redditing on his phone – yeah I’m ready to goyes I’m sure this time – he grabs the car. You’re super lucky to have him. – crap, I forgot my coffee. Just a sec.

In one sweeping motion, you grab the coffee, suitcase, open then lock the door, toss the suitcase in the backseat, and slide into the passenger seat.

It’s 5:05. The sun is just rising, though in Winter it didn’t rise until after takeoff. You inhale some coffee and put on a podcast. Your husband, who works for Microsoft, is looking forward to getting some work done at the office before people start bothering him. You both talk a little on the drive. You half listen while checking into your 6:05 a.m. flight to Oakland, CA. Download the ticket to your phone.

It’s 5:27. You kiss him goodbye, remind him to pick you up on Friday, and begin to put on your TSA-face.

The TSA face is all about looking super entitled, and acting like you know more than everyone else. You calculate which checkpoint is closest to your gate. Pull up your Alaska Airlines ticket with TSA-precheck on your phone. Silently laugh at anyone slower than you. Power walk to the agent, flash the phone, and immediately look bored when you get to the back of the line. Smile like you recognize the agent. You don’t. Save for three of them, these guys rotate monthly.

5:30. Looking ahead trying to calculate which line is the fastest. Choose the wrong one. Damn, every time. Roll eyes and shake head because apparently some people don’t know how belts work. Execute perfectly choreographed moves to take off backpack, purse, suitcase. Secure phone into purse. Push onto conveyor belt. Walk through metal detector. Reassemble at the other side.

Power walk to the gate. It’s 5:48. Everyone’s on and there’s no overhead space. They put “claim at gate.” it’s part of the plan. You leave the suitcase at the end of the gangway and step onto the plane.

Always seat 7C. It has under seat storage space, unlike row 6, while still being the closest to first class. Aisle seat means you get on and off that much faster.

Sometimes the upgrades happen. Not today.

5:58 a.m. Everyone’s on. You leave the gate early. Put on a podcast and close your eyes. You used to catch up on emails on the plane, now you’re just tired. You listen to 99 Percent Invisible, Freakonomics, and the TED Radio Hour on the 1.5-hour flight.

7:26am descent. 8:10 you’re at the gate. Just as planned, your suitcase is waiting for you when you step off.

Suitcase in hand, the power walk begins again. Grab the next AirBART train to Coliseum Station. Since this launched in November 2014, it’s shaved off 30 minutes of your commute. Before that, it was a smelly bus that was packed tightly and careened through the streets. No, this tram is much better.

Get to BART by 8:25. 6 minutes for the next train. You’re at the office door by 8:45.

Only a few people are in this early. They all call out your name, as if it’s a surprise that you’re even there. You smile and say hi to everyone on their way in. It’s good to be back. They all ask how your trip was, and you turn it around and ask them how their bus ride was. They’re basically the same thing.

“The dream kontinues…”
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