Life as a Blue Shirt: The Commute

flashdanceIn order to make it through my year as a “blue shirt” (what I call the corporate workers of NYC) I have decided to imagine 2013 as a comical montage. I want to be able to look back at the year and set my memories to a song from Flash Dance. I will remember myself working away at a reception desk, running off to a rehearsal, stumbling through dance classes (and slowly getting better as the montage goes on), and singing with my super duper vocal coach that I tracked down from my summer camp. So far I have tackled all of these things other than the dance class…winter makes me lazy.

But I’ve noticed that this way of life can be a drag in the beginning. And even a year down the line, I don’t think I will fully adjust. Once I get to the office, I’m pretty much in the clear from those nagging “you’re wasting your time” thoughts. But when my alarm goes off five days a week at 6:45, and then all through my commute, my theatre brain starts yelling, “This isn’t what we do! We sit on sets for 15 hours! We dress up like Victorian ladies! We teach children crafts!” All of these lovely things do not pay enough right now to help me reach my financial goals…which now include getting married.


Holy Jeebus I’m getting married. Every time I say this I want to leap around my reception desk. But that would scare the corporate types, so it’s for the best I don’t. Ben and I have another reason for sticking with these 9-5s for a while. I’m going on here. The point of this blog post is to walk you through my life on the other side of the corporate walls. If you’re in the arts and have ever been curious about running around with the all people in suits, you’re in luck! I will update more as my time here goes on, but for now…the commute!

How the Blue Shirts Live

I realized this morning that I could put everyone into several categories. Please do not think I am the most judgmental person in the world. I’m sure if I met them, most would be delightful people. But still, they’re fun to observe. Like zoo animals. From the crazy to the bland…these people are in my life for at least another year:

Also, get ready for some great stock photos off of google image search!

Mr. Push and Shove:

The 4 train this morning

I start my morning at Journal Square on the train bound for the World Trade Center. The color scheme of this train is made up of gray, blue, and black suits with an occasional colorful button up if it’s Friday. Lower Manhattan isn’t exactly a rainbow of creativity. Mr. Push and Shove is usually under 5’7″ and I can assume works as an analyst in a hectic financial firm. They have the “there will never be another train” mentality so will get past you by any means necessary. Screw chivalry, or human decency for that matter, this guy’s goal is get to that train seat and be the first off the train as well. He may or may not be listening to pop or techno music very loudly on his headphones.

Mrs. Push and Shove:

They've been secretaries since they looked like this.
They’ve been secretaries since they looked like this.

These women are similar to Mr. Push and Shove in stature. I have heard them referred to as “lifers” in the receptionist circle. I have no idea what they do, but I have met many life-long office managers that fit their description. Who’s to say though. They tend to wear matching suits and pile on lipstick every ten minutes or so. They read Dan Brown books. What I do respect is that they wear running shoes with their lady suits. I like the phrase lady suit. This brings me to my next group of people….

Ladies who judge my boots


Okay, I admit it, I have awful winter boots. After 10 sleet and snow storms, these thing look like poo. But I refuse to wear uncomfortable shoes on my way to work when I don’t have to. So all winter, I have been putting on my hiking socks and cozy boots for the walk. They look pretty grungy, but they’ve become my stand against fashion over function. It’s 20 degrees out, why are you wearing stilts and tights? This group of ladies are a little less pushy, but mainly because they can’t walk in the shoes they’ve chosen. They make up PR employees, Executive Assistants, and financial…people. Whatever they do there. They are dolled up to the nines, over 6 feet tall, and though I envy their drive to do their hair in the morning, I don’t see myself fitting into this group any time soon.

Sorority Girls

These girls are slightly younger than “Ladies who judge my boots.” They are right out of undergrad and probably have an internship with a creative firm somewhere. There aren’t that many of these types in Jersey City, I see them more in my office. They are equally dolled up, but a lot friendlier. Their souls are still intact and they haven’t been eating Hale and Hearty for 3 years.

Men always on the clock

Buy buy!  Sell sell!
Buy buy! Sell sell!

I feel sorry for this group. I noticed early on that certain people are always working. Even while they sit on the train, they’re reading reports on their iPads or piles of papers on their lap. I’m not here to judge, I don’t know how their lives work. But one morning, there was a young man in a light gray suit who was trying to balance on a packed train while reading something that looked terribly official. Then, right when we pulled into the WTC station, he turned white as a ghost, and passed out. Everyone tried to help him out, even the Mr. Push and Shoves, but the PATH employees came quickly as well and tried to get him to sit for a minute. As I was leaving the train, I just kept hearing him say “I have to go to work.” I hope he’s had a quarter-life crisis since then and is now working on a dock on a tropical island.

Rectangular White Men


When I imagine Wall Street, I picture these guys. I don’t see them on the train all that often, but more on the way home. One night I heard a gem of a conversation by two drunk 40-somethings coming from a happy hour. They were actually talking about how much time their company had to “hide the money before they were audited.” Great job guys, way to fulfill your Wall Street stereotype. Then one had the balls to hit on me on the way out. He did a drunk lunge in my direction and said I had blue eyes. I do. Very observant. You sure know how to woo a lady, sir.

The man who sings about the Metro Paper

I continue my commute up the crazy stairs of the WTC Path and over to the 4,5 at Fulton Street. Along Vesey Street, stand about 5 people handing out Metro papers. They are mostly ignored, but man do I have respect for this guys (and gals). It has been COLD recently, especially down there by the water. And every morning, their out their smiling, singing, and sometimes even yelling motivational speeches on working hard.

The Church Street Sheep Herders


Because of construction, everyone piles up in a grey and black clump by a yellow chain that keeps us from crossing the street. In the crowd, you hear all the cell phones come out. It becomes a mish-mash of chatter with corporate words mixed in like “ECONOMY”, “REPORTS”, and “MEETING!” Then these nice police officers get us sheep across the street when the light changes. You don’t even need to look up if you don’t want to, you don’t have a choice of where to walk. I imagine a barking dog behind us most of the time trying to coral us onto the sidewalk.

And last but not least…Vernon.

Vernon is the older man at the security desk of my building. He is the only person on my commute that I actually get to interact with. You can tell he takes a lot of crap from confused visitors passing through this building. They’re very strict here about guests going up without permission. Last week after making it through a long line for my temp pass, I asked him how he was and he said he wished he could win the lottery and run away. So I bought us both a scratch off ticket at lunch and now we’re friends.

And that’s that. My hour and ten minute commute full of characters. I would like to ask them what their secret is for getting up every day and going to the same place. I do see the point of it. Don’t get me wrong, I am very appreciative to have this new job for a while. But the dancing/singing/acting/phone answering montage will definitely help me look back on this stage of my life and laugh.

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