Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Rush Hour Ramble

Nearly every morning I take a crosstown bus from my home in the West Village, then catch a 6 Train to 33rd St. and my midtown office. This morning, however, torrential pre-dawn rains had overwhelmed the subway system's pumps, flooding several critical lines for people traveling uptown and downtown. On the odd occasions this happens I just walk to work. Walking easily, without any sense of urgency, I still arrived only 5 minutes late this morning, having had time to read a little at each "Don't Walk" crosswalk along the way. Realizing that I could have arrived an hour late without worry was especially gratifying: It's nice having a job - and a boss - that don't require a stress-filled wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth over arriving punctually at 8:30 each morning. Mind you, I nearly always arrive before 8:30 out of a sense of responsibility and military school-induced paranoia. (Thanks to my father, I'm also genetically hard-wired to arrive early for everything, particularly flights. Well before the Department of Homeland Security mandated that travelers get to the airport well in advance of a scheduled flight, I was arriving at least two hours early thanks to my dad's "Ten Commandments for Travel.")

This morning, as I languidly trudged up Park Avenue, I couldn't help but notice the frantic visages of stranded commuters. With no subway to herd them into Wall Street corrals or midtown office pools, these indentured office servants better resembled panic-stricken prey on the savanna, eyes darting left and right, weighing anxiously their options for arriving at work on time. "Do I wait in line for a bus," they silently mused, surveying the long lines queuing at each stop. "Let's split a taxi," I heard one threesome say, as they scanned the onrushing downtown lanes for a cab. The sense of fear and frustration was palpable along the more-crowded-than-usual sidewalks. For many, the worry is probably legitimate. They likely have predatory bosses that simply won't tolerate lateness for any excuse short of debilitating illness or coma.

Thankfully, I can say that I've never worked in a situation where that predator-prey mindset prevailed. Life's too short to spend roughly 50 weeks of each year marching to work in an environment that resembles a sociological petri dish in which the concept of natural selection is tested daily. Sure, I could probably make more money if I surrendered to the prevailing Manhattan current and decided to swim with bigger fish. But in the last several years I've learned that life really isn't about making more money, the downtown mindset notwithstanding. Naturally I'd prefer to make enough to pay the bills, provide health insurance for my family, and have enough left over to cover some leisure activities, in a mutated "American Dream" scenario. Making money the primary objective, however, just holds little appeal. I prefer my low-stress position . . . and the anxiety-free walks on days the transit system decides to hiccup.


One Wink at a Time said...

You're quite fortunate to work where you do. I hear it's a dog-eat-dog world out there.;-)
I'm guessing being happy in your workplace has a lot to do your personality. You seem very relaxed. I also think the way you were brought up had a lot to do with it. Your thoughts?

ellen said...

b- i loved reading this writing AND i couldn't agree more:)! e