Today at Berkeley Lab

On the Road With Susan Synarski and Gita Meckel

By Theresa Duque

When Gita Meckel (right) and Susan Synarski got married a couple of years ago, where they would reside wasn’t hard to figure out, since they had been living in the same North Oakland home for more than 20 years. They were even working at the same place: Meckel, who joined the Lab in 2001, is deputy of Operations for the Environment, Health & Safety and the Information Technology divisions; and Synarski, who followed in 2010, provides operational and communication support for the Energy Technologies Area.
Whether they could carpool together took some time to set in motion, however. Their work schedules were not in sync at the time, so they drove to the Lab in separate cars. But when construction for the Integrative Genomics Building ramped up last year, they decided it was time to join forces behind the wheel, and help the Lab ease parking and traffic congestion by driving just one car to work.
“We realized it was wasteful to drive two cars when we work and live in the same place. So last year we decided to drive in together and leave the office at the same time,” said Synarski. “It’s nice to have those extra 15 minutes to talk during the carpool. It’s more family time. I consider it a benefit.”
Today, they carpool together about 95 percent of the time, Meckel said. And if one of them has to arrive at the office earlier or work later, they have a number of options, such as taking the Rockridge shuttle or walking.

On days when their schedules don’t match at all, Synarski sometimes rides her Vespa to work. And about once a week, they’ll pack light so they can walk together all the way to work. “We’re pretty lucky in that we live close enough to walk to the Lab,” she said.
But most days of the week, they carpool, heading out to work in the same car. “Making the change was pretty painless,” noted Meckel. “Old habits can be hard to break sometimes, but I’m glad we did!”