Hands down the one question people ask most often is "what time do you get up?" And usually, before I answer, they pick an hour that in their lives is absurd, "2:30? 3?". I love when that happens because then the shock value of the true answer is at its peak.
"1:00 in the morning"!
"No way. How do you do that? I'm just going to bed then"!
The other sad truth is that it doesn't shock me or my system anymore because I've been doing it for so long. The man at the Dunkin Donuts even knows what size coffee I like to buy every morning and how many sugars I take in it. In fact, he usually has it ready at about the time I pass by. That's probably pretty sad too. But it does make the commute more efficient and at that hour, when you need to listen to and read through eveything that's been going on all night before you hit the air, live at 4:30 a.m., time is precious.
The drive time helps as well. The same trip that can take as along as 2 hours in bad weather or with a terrible accident, generally takes me about 20 minutes door to coffee to door. So I make sure I drop that little nugget into the conversation if someone feels sorry about my wake-up time. I appreciate the sympathy, but the job does have its rewards.
Beyond fresh coffee and and a fast commute, by the time the rest of the world is dreaming about lunch, I am winding down my work day. And, when our 3 kids are in school, there's some quiet time at home, an uninterupted workout or a bike ride and then plenty of quality time with the kids when they arrive home. My wife loves to remind me that they're usually in great spirits during the hours I'm conscious enough to focus on them. As opposed to when they need to wake up or go to bed. That's the toughest time of any family's day. But since I have to get to bed by 7:30 or 8 in order to function the next morning, that's the time I'm usually in deep rems.
During the summer, when our now teenaged children stay up later and our college son sometimes just stays up period, I feel like our house becomes a 24 hour Steak'nShake (food analogies are my favorite—especially anything to do with Steak'nShake!). When I get up to go to work in July let's say, there is often a group of college friends of my oldest, microwaving a pizza in our kitchen as they wind up their night. But as they get closer and closer to having to earn a living themselves, they are increasingly in awe of the hours I work. And since all of us at NBC 5 News Today have to hit the ground running when our alarms go off that ungodly hour, anything that makes us feel good about it, even a passing compliment from a college kid, is something we relish all the way to that first sip of hot coffee at 1:58 a.m.!