Once Around Manhattan

I've always enjoyed my visits to New York City, whether for business, school, or socializing. It's a nice escape with high energy and different scenery from Long Island, but it's definitely a tiring experience that makes me appreciate home. Early in my career, I only applied once for a job in the city which I didn't get, and had I been among the lucky few my former company retained after their last major layoffs, there's a good possibility I would have had to commute in when they moved a portion of the staff to Manhattan.

I don't know how people go to work in the city every day, packed into trains like sardines. On Wednesday, my current company sent myself and another art director in for a direct mail convention, which is about as exciting as it sounds. It's basically a networking venture in which people who provide various services from printing to special formats to database management meet with companies they'd like to do business with. From the artist's standpoint, since we're not in the position of hiring outside services, it's more of a research venture, seeing what's out there to get ideas and make suggestions to our superiors that hopefully fall within our budget. Also, we get to collect a lot of nifty promotional materials ranging from the ordinary like pens with company's names on them to stress balls or light up yo-yos. Probably the best item I got this year was a stuffed penguin, but for the most part the smaller space and fewer booths and freebies seemed to be a sign of our struggling economy.

So, we only spent about an hour there, not much longer than we'd spent on the train. We managed to get one of our former coworkers to meet us at a diner for lunch, and after he went back to work we decided on our next course of action. One of our supervisors who was at the convention had “joked” about people going back to the office in the afternoon, but the company more or less gives its employees a whole day out for these types of things. My friend, whose name would be “Triathlon” if he were a superhero, wanted to stop and get a new spandex top for his next race, possibly because his current one made him look like something out of Youngblood. I was tempted to just catch a train home and avoid the crowds of people leaving work, but promises of photo opportunities at Central Park, which was near the store he wanted to go to, coerced me.

The store proved to be a waste when they didn't have what he was looking for and charged too much for similar items, but the park proved to be a good call. I've only really explored the Easternmost margins of the sprawling rocks, water, and greenery in the middle of the greatest city on Earth, fearing muggings in my younger, more innocent days. I've never been there with my camera, and though my luck powers were causing clouds to roll in on what started out as a clear, sunny day, I still got at least two week's worth of decent images. It was also nice, after navigating crowds and intersections and trying to keep up with Triathlon, to find so many open spaces, as well as ridiculously tame birds and squirrels that came right up to people.

The walk back was a little rougher, as time slipped away and people were leaving work. I was feeling drained by this point but managed a few more shots before putting my camera away. At the station we timed our train pretty well, though I hated the disorganized crowd of people cramming into the stairwell to get down to the platform. My friend teased me about nodding off on the train, but I was wiped out. I estimated we'd walked about 10 miles, and had been off our feet for less than an hour at the diner before resuming. Back home, Triathlon's wife picked us up at the station, sparing us the walk back to their house. He said he planned to go for a bike ride, but I'd be surprised if they didn't just collapse on the couch in front of the television with their dog. I know there was no way I was going to the gym after hiking through uneven terrain and climbing a castle, among other adventures. All in all, it proved a nice way to break up the week, and dealing with any crises that sprung up in my absence will be a relief, since I'll be able to do it in comfort behind my desk. Once around Manhattan was fun, but once was enough, at least for this week.


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