A study in subtle detail. I like to try to make as much of the common, mundane events in this story somewhat plausible. Terry's morning rush in the first six pages wasn't just dramatic effect, his panic at waking up around 7:36 was justifiable (though, even for an airhead he managed to jump out and get dressed at a much, much faster rate than I...bastard).
Terry's hometown is Santa Alta, a smallish town just south of and practically a suburb of San Francisco (more on this fictitious town in a later post). His school, Bidwell College, is in Palto Menlo, a several miles due south. A commuter train line runs between those two municipalities. I based Terry's urgency on several factors, largely revolving on this timetable, excerpted and referenced from a real-life parallel:
Terry lives across from the Santa Alta train station (lucky bastard) and his college is roughly 15 minutes by foot from the Palto Menlo train station. His first class begins at 8:20. He refused student housing because he's a dog. As such, 218 is Terry's last possible chance to make it on time... if he makes a run for it.