Early morning drives, quality time with Pop

A student reminisces on the 3 a.m. car rides to her summer job with her grandfather in the driver’s seat.


During fall break, I had a little taste of last summer. It wasn’t a beach trip, and it definitely wasn’t a hot, sunny day. It was a ride to work from my Pop.

This past summer when I was living at home in Northeast Philly, I had my first morning news show internship. People who work in morning TV news have to be at the studio early — like, 3-a.m. early. Because I don’t have my own car yet, I was satisfied with my plan to take Ubers there.

But Pop, my grandfather whom I’ve lived with since I was about 12 years old, wasn’t satisfied with that plan. He insisted on driving me there each morning. 

“Of course, he’ll wake up to drive his favorite,” my other family members said, rolling their eyes. 

Like clockwork, I’d meet Pop in our living room at 2:20 a.m. We’d venture out to our car in the cool, summer night, crickets still chirping and daylight nowhere to be found. Once we got around the corner, we’d stop at the neighborhood Wawa, where I’d get my coffee and an extra sweet iced tea for Pop — a small token of my appreciation.

Some days we were more talkative than others, probably depending on how much sleep each of us got before our journey to West Philadelphia. We’d talk about Pop’s glory days and our family’s past and present. I’d giggle at the irony that Pop delivered newspapers before dawn as a kid.

All the while, I used an aux cord to fill the car with our shared interest: music from the 1960s and 70s.

After each long day of riding in a news van or helping with in-house production, Pop would be right out front, waiting to take me home. When we arrived back at our house, I’d tell him if “we” had work the next day.

If I had my own car, I would’ve missed out on the opportunity to spend more time with one of my favorite people in the world. I might not have heard about his friends and his first jobs, and I might not have known that he prefers The Beatles over The Rolling Stones.

My fall semester internship is in Old City, about a 10-minute ride from my apartment near Main Campus. So, now I Uber to work. But if it were up to Pop, he’d go completely out of his way to pick me up and drive me there.

My Uber drivers are usually good at making small talk, but that sure isn’t the same as hearing Pop say how proud he is of me.

No matter where my future as a reporter takes me, I’ll always look back on my first gig with a smile. And that might be because I learned how to shoot my first live shots, wrote my first stories that were read on live television and met some amazing professionals in the field. 

But it’ll mostly be because I’m Pop’s favorite, and I’m grateful to have spent so much time with him.

When I stayed home all week for fall break, I didn’t have to worry about timing my Uber ride just right to get me to work on time. Pop was in the living room, sitting on the recliner, waiting for me to get my coat and shoes on so we could be on our way to Wawa — just like it was summer again. 

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