Most people don’t live next door to their office, so they’re familiar with the daily grind of a long commute to work. Whether it’s an early morning drive through rush-hour traffic or packing into a crowded train, people spend a lot of their days and lives just moving to and from our jobs.
This woman’s story is bound to make you feel better about your hour-long commute—and maybe even inspire you.
Carolyn Cherry, 60, is a clerical worker for the Los Angeles County Auditors. It’s a good job, one that she’s had for 16 years, providing a good income for her family.
The problem is that Cherry doesn’t live in Los Angeles County. She lives in Hemet, California—105 miles away.
Every day, she makes a six-hour round-trip commute to work and back home.
Every single work day for the past 16 years, she wakes up at 2:45 a.m. and leaves the house an hour later. Picking up a friend along the way, she drives to South Perris Station, where she takes the train to Los Angeles. She arrives about 7 a.m., and then makes her way to work.
Then she’s at work for nine hours and takes the same route home. She only gets 4.5 hours of sleep per night.
While no one would blame Cherry for complaining about the grind, she’s perfectly okay with it—thanks to one big motivating reason.
The long commute allows her to save money on rent, providing a better life for her family.
“I chose to live this far away because I wanted my kids to have a better growing up experience,” Cherry told NBC News. “I did live in an area that was crime-infested at the time.”
Not only that, her home in Hemet is significantly cheaper than a home in LA County. The Cherry family only pays $800 in rent, a thousand dollars less than they would pay in the city. This has allowed them a better quality of life and let Cherry save up college money for her kids.
“I just wanted a better life for my children.”
Meanwhile, her kids miss their mom—they don’t get to see her much—but understand and appreciate the sacrifices she makes for them.
“Waking up in the morning and not seeing my mom wasn’t necessarily something that was foreign to me,” said Cherry’s daughter Breeawn. “When my mom came home at night it would usually be so late that there wasn’t much to do in terms of family time.”
“I understand the reasoning behind her doing it, though. The sacrifice that she’s making, it’s always been for the betterment [of] me and my brother.”
Despite spending so much time en route to work, Cherry has a surprisingly good attitude about it, and makes the most out of each trip.
“I enjoy it,” she told NBC.
“It gives me time to relax.”
She has a regular seat on her train, where she drinks coffee, unwinds, and does a little people-watching.
“The people on the train are quite interesting. You see people from all walks of life.”
And even that early morning wake-up time—something that most people would dread—is just another normal part of Cherry’s life. She doesn’t even set an alarm, instead relying on her own body clock.
“I never missed a day,” she insists.
However, her years of six-hour train rides will soon be coming to an end: She plans to retire from work this November. It will be a well-deserved break that will take some getting used to.
“I can’t even imagine what it’s like,” she told NBC.