Today, Joe Ryder sits down with us to share his thoughts on commuting in New York City. Inspired by a young man he came across on the train this morning, Joe tell us a story that he would like to share with any young professional, commuting to the city for the first time, if ever given the chance again.
“Every day, I get off the train at Penn Station and walk to work, which takes me approximately 18 minutes. There are many things that come to mind during this walk, including all of the things I see along the way that are, for lack of a better word, interesting. But today, I was thinking about this kid that I sat next to on the ride in: dressed in khakis, hair slicked back, and rummaging through his belongings nervously, the young man was clearly new to the morning commute, possibly new to the New York City workforce. As I walked, I thought about this new kid and the world that he’s about to throw himself into, a bum approached me and asked a strange question. Before I answered him I thought, ‘Not only is the working world in Manhattan insane, but the commute is a jungle in itself that is extremely difficult to survive.’
Therefore, this article is for that new kid in the khakis on the train, and for every young adult beginning their daily journey through this concrete jungle. If you want an idea of what to expect on your daily commute, take a quick look at my 18-minute walk from Penn Station to my office, below:
00:1- 02:00: Train pulls into Penn Station. The doors open and you hope everyone follows exiting etiquette, which of course, they do not. Instead of filing out of the train in a sensible order, it’s a clusterfuck of bodies running off.
02:00- 05:00: After exiting, 1,000 people are crushed like a herd of cattle onto a platform that was meant to hold a few hundred bodies, maybe. Together, you some how maneuver your way up the staircase, and into the lobby. Every day, I shockingly make it out of Penn Station in 4-5 minutes. Don’t ask me how, but it happens.
05:00-07:00: Outside of Penn Station, I make my way down 33rd street, near the Penn Hotel. Here, not only has a shantytown of homeless and insane people formed, but also I believe I have discovered a new smell: one that shouldn’t exist.
07:00-10:00: I walk past a man dancing in a spandex outfit, and head left towards Herald Square. As I walk through the small park near Macy’s, I notice a man with six months worth of facial hair walking towards me. He hands me an empty can of Coors Light and asks me this simple question: ‘Tuna Salad?’ I reply with what I believe is the most appropriate response: ‘No, thank you. Not today.’
10:00-15:00: As I make a right on 36th street towards Fifth Avenue, I think to myself, ‘Walking to work from Penn Station to your office during rush hour makes you feel like you’re Bud Abbott in a city of Lou Costello’s (I hyper linked that last line for those of you who, sadly, don’t know who Abbott and Costello are).’ Halfway down the block, there’s a food store that calls itself a deli. Outside of it stands a man with empty eyes, robotically hosing down the sidewalk. Every time I pass it I notice a strange, fishy smell that is nothing short of rancid, and every day, I ask myself, ‘Who the hell would eat there?’
15:00-18:00: I cross Fifth Avenue and walk towards 39th street. When I’m a half a block away from my office, I see the traffic signal blinking red and make a quick run for it. I have absolutely no idea why I start running—I’m not late for work; I don’t have a meeting, or anywhere to be—but I feel it’s necessary to run across the street to barely make the light I didn’t need to make.
18:00-Forever: Finally, I arrive at my office. And now, the stressful part of my day begins.”