Travel

We’re all too close to the edge

Because in Florida, I leave my air-conditioned house, and drive myself in my air-conditioned car to my air-conditioned place of work.
Because in Florida, I leave my air-conditioned house, and drive myself in my air-conditioned car to my air-conditioned place of work.

Last week, I realized that I spend a total 1.5 hours each day mentally cursing at the world as I commute back and forth to work. I’m not particularly proud of this person whom I become, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a pent-up rage welling up within me, ready to go apeshit on the poor soul who will one day tip me over the edge.

The stuffiness, the sweat, the random warm (water?) droplets that fall from mysterious places onto my face, the absolute discomfort I feel in this debilitating heat gets me so restless that I find myself literally having to hold myself back from physically yelling: at the person in front of me who walks too slowly; at the girl who happens to have perfectly flowing and dry locks as I struggle to barely keep my hair out of my face long enough to not impulsively shave it off; or at the selfish squatters who occupy two otherwise perfectly vacant subway seats while I try in earnest to scrunch myself into as little a person as possible out of consideration for the next guy.

The subway cars themselves are tolerable thanks to the air conditioning. But they represent only a brief reprieve from the choked platforms and above-ground sauna which are proof that hell exists. As I wait for the downtown 1 train toward Penn Station from Times Square, I wonder what I must have done in my past life to experience such torture. My only consolation is that we are all in this together– except for that one girl who still has free-flowing locks and makeup intact (Seriously?! How is she doing that?!)

You see, for once, I’m not the only one sweating uncomfortably. Everyone in New York (except for her) is sweating. There’s a shared irritability, an understood “Don’t talk to me right now or I will explode,” conveyed in the pursed lips, beaded brows of fellow commuters. As you emerge from the subterranean tunnels, you notice two breeds of pedestrians: those who take calculated steps to avoid producing sweat stains on their work clothes, and those who swiftly circumvent them to get to the next site of air conditioning as soon as possible. A determined and clever few will even catch every awning in their paths to enjoy blissful bits of shade where the temperature is several degrees cooler. (I’ll leave it to you to guess of which breed I am a member.)

When I finally step into my building and share the elevator with three others also heading up to the office, there is no exchange of “Good mornings” because it isn’t.

By the time I reach my desk, I can no longer tell if the dampness in my tied-up hair is from the shower I took 45 minutes ago, or because I desperately need another one– likely a sticky mixture of both. I furiously fan myself with “(AP) Means Associated Press: 166 Years of Logotype Design” as my computer takes a few minutes to boot up. I’m disgusted that I am slightly pleased to see the next lady who trudges up the stairs to the mezzanine floor (oh did I forget to mention that flight of stairs?) bears an equally ruddy and defeated expression.

I sign into my computer and find that my sentiments are echoed in the deluge of Twitter posts by other people in New York similarly frustrated. Post after post after post.

Because like I said, we’re all in this together.

I suppose in a city of 8.3 million people, each one hurriedly scurrying past each other to get to the next place, the next meeting, the next social engagement, this is one of the few things that ties us together.

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