If you want a picture of “the grind,” look no further than my morning commute. Another day, another outfit. I’m sure many of you can say the same. Back in Seattle, I had more variation. Some days I’d take the bus, others I’d drive. I worked from home more often, so it was just roll out of bed, start the coffee and sign on. My co-workers were also more likely to swap shifts, so some days I’d start at 9:30 instead of 8. Sometimes I added a run to my morning, or stopped at Fresh Flours for treats. Often, my morning variation involved circling North 36th Street for a parking spot.
But now, things are stagnant. I shake Gatito’s treats to get him to come back inside since he likes to patrol the hallway before I leave. I grab my bag(s) and walk the same streets to the same train station. I say good morning to Allando, the old man who sits on his stoop. He’s rarely sober.
I grab a copy of AM New York and hurry down the stairs to the subway, readying my MetroCard for its moment. I make my way down more stairs and turn left to get on at the end of the train. I open my paper and start reading while I wait a minute or two for a train to show up. I have it timed pretty well by now.
I get off the train at a busy Midtown station and walk up the same stairs. I rush past the same newspaper guys waving copies of “AM New Ya-wk! AM New Ya-wk!”
Usually I make it past Au Bon Pain and its windows of baked treats and Starbucks. I don’t even glance in the direction of Dunkin Donuts and Subway as I make my way to the street.
Sometimes, like today, I turn into the basement of 30 Rockefeller Center for a Blue Bottle latte. After chatting up the baristas and admiring the latte designs, I take the escalator out toward the plaza. As I clutch my coffee, I miss Bogdan in the New York office. We used to make Blue Bottle runs. I glance over at J.Crew as suits rush past. It’s too early for the tourists to gather on the plaza. At a break in traffic, I rush to cross the street and peek in the Anthropologie window, where employees are arranging new items.
I pick up the pace as I walk along Radio City Music Hall without attempting to dodge picture-takers until I reach my building. “Good morning,” the older doorman whose name I don’t know calls to me. I flash a smile and say hi, as I scan one of two badges. Another doorman gives me a friendly wave from across the second set of turnstiles. I wave back and get on the elevator. Once upstairs, I scan my second badge at two doors before reaching my desk. I unload my lunch, glasses and phone from my bag then stash it under my desk. I let myself into my boss’s office to put my lunch in his fridge. I sit down to turn on my computer and start sipping that perfect, foamy, delicious latte. I’m so glad I varied my routine to get it.