180 minutes: How My First Day’s Commute Taught Me Everything I Needed to Know

Hello! My name is Vincent Gonzales, a Junior advertising major with a dual concentration in copywriting and media planning.

Hello! My name is Vincent Gonzales, a Junior advertising major with a dual concentration in copywriting and media planning.

180 minutes. 90 minutes there…90 minutes back.

That’s the amount of time I travel every day for my internship as the copywriter intern for VIVO, a medical device and diagnostics advertising agency. Twice a day, I take an hour long train ride and thirty-minute bus route to my agencies office in Horsham, PA.

I remember my first day’s commute as if it was yesterday.

I had to start my voyage at 7am in order to make my train to Willow Grove, a small suburban town located directly North of Temple.

It was a cold  January morning. I remember being able to feel the tips of my post-shower hair start to harden with every gust of freezing wind.

Yet, I was concerned with other things.

I was anxious, constantly wondering what lies ahead on my first day at a real agency!

As I walked down Norris Street, I remember thinking to myself:

7:20 or 7:30…How much time do I have before my train? Can I stop at Saige Cafe for coffee?

I look up the train times on my phone,

Warminster Line leaving Temple at…7:15!

I look at my phone clock,


I sprinted to the train.

I reached the station just as the train doors opened for onboarding. I remember seeing myself in the train window reflection, sweat dripping down my cheek and steam dancing above my head as I handed the conductor my train pass. I sat down.

Whew! Let’s not do that again!

Side Note: I’ve had to run to catch the morning train more times than I’d like to admit, but that’s for another story.

Once boarded, I remember asking myself all the important questions:

Will I fit in?

What type of work will I be able to actually do?

Does the Keurig have cappuccino cups?

Outside of the confines of my mind, I could see my view of urban landscapes change to that of woodlands and rural backyards.

The calming noises of the chugging locomotive mixed with the green blurs that passed by the windows started to put me in a trance…

I did wake up at 6:45. Maybe if I just close my eyes for a second…



The booming voice of the SEPTA conductor awoke me just in time.

I got off the train,


Now it was time to find the bus…

Where is that again? Is it coming at 9:00 or 9:15am? Did I already miss it? Oh no, I’m going to be late! I can’t be late on the first day! There’s a bus, I think it’s going in the right direction…

It wasn’t.

I was on the wrong route for about 10 minutes before I realized I was going in the wrong direction. I quickly hopped off and found myself at a random intersection in the heart of Montgomery County.

Time to call an Uber…I guess.

My first-day jitters left my body due to my focus being solely on the minutes disappearing from my driver’s dashboard clock.

Come on, Dude! Floor it!

Miraculously, I made it on time.

I remember walking into my agency, Adrenaline pumping and all. My internship supervisor approached me,

“Hey, Vince! Happy to see you made it in one piece. I guess your commute isn’t that bad after all!”

Don’t tell him, Don’t tell him…

“Oh, it was a breeze. Easy as pie!”

Within the first minutes of my arrival, I was thrown into the deep end of healthcare marketing.

“One of our copywriters is currently out on paternity leave, so I’m going to need your help in tackling his projects. I’ll send you the PDFs and powerpoints that we give to our sales reps. Read through them and I’ll collect you in sixty to brief you more on the client.”

And with that, my supervisor vanished.

I was alone at my desk with digital file upon digital file telling me about one of our agency’s clients–KCI. Basically, the client wanted us to market these postoperative devices for knee and breast surgery that excels recovery time and decreases the chance for re-admission and other harmful complications.

Ok, Ok. If you can make it on time, you can figure out what’s going on in these sales brochures.


“Are you ready to chat, Vince?”

Oh yeah.

As soon as we sat down, my supervisor made me recite back to him the information that I garnered over the past hour.

I didn’t miss a beat.

Whether it was the adrenaline that I had pumping through my veins or the deep fear I had of making another mistake that morning, I was able to get through the chaos and come out on top.

The rest of the day was similar to my first hour of work. It was a constant cycle of reading about the client, comprehending their wants, and editing the sales brochures, PowerPoints, and other sales catalogs that would be sent out to sales reps, targeted physicians, and other private and public healthcare entities.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted. So exhausted that I made it a priority to plan, check, and double check the route I had mapped out for my way home; leaving no room for error.

While on my bus ride back to the Willow Grove train station I reflected upon my day.

Although it was hectic and relentless at times, I thought to myself:

Hey, at least I made it here!

For you see, hidden within the pure craziness that was my day, laid the reassurance needed to believe that I can handle whatever is thrown my way.

And as I watched the rural landscapes change to the Urban skylines I call home, I couldn’t help but spend the last minutes of my commute wearing a smile in anticipation for tomorrow.


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