While riding the Path train, trying to avoid eye contact, my mind was a jumble of thoughts. Where am I going to get dressed? What the hell am I going to do? Why didn’t I just get dressed at the laughing Chinese Lady’s shop? Why can’t I get up on time? Why? Why? Why?
I was suddenly interrupted by this guy. He was staring. Hard. It wasn’t a quick peek and look away. It was a mouth watering, I-haven’t-been-laid-in-6-months-and-I-want-to-get-to-know-you-naked-girl-on-the-train type of stare.
It made me uncomfortable, and I didn’t know what to do, so I stared back. When in doubt, be confrontational. I finally said, “Is there a problem?” He said, “What’s the matter? You didn’t have time to get dressed this morning?” I said, “Haven’t you ever heard of dress down day?” And then I ran off the train.
I ran up the steps and down the block only to think that things looked different. I knew it was early but it just seemed... and then I realized I got off at the wrong stop. That crazy stalker/starer had rattled me so much that I got off at 23rd street, and my job was on 34th. With no money for a cab, I jumped onto the 9-train.
My eyes search the train for coworkers so frenetically that I look like an epileptic patient. I’m so close to work that it’s almost inevitable I’ll run into someone. Hottie Boss is going to kill me.
The people in NJ had been staring, gawking, whistling and waving, but my beloved New Yorkers barely blink. I’m naked on the subway, and someone else is really a man dressed as a woman, and someone else is crazy talking to himself about peanut butter, while a blind man, who appears to be able to see, begs for change. I’m with my people. I’m home.
I pop out of the train a block from work. I run into the Manhattan Mini-Mall because I know there’s a set of bathrooms on the top floor. I have 3 minutes. I would get dressed in the elevator, but it’s made of glass. This karma bullshit sucks, when it happens in reverse to you.
I’m running towards the bathroom when two maintenance guys call out, “Excuse me, the mall is closed.” I turn around, with only a moment to spare, and plead like my life depends on it. I stare straight in their eyes, and say, “Listen. I. Need. To. Use. Your. Bathroom. Now!” I punctuate each word by looking at my body hoping they understand. One guy moves into action. He quickly unlocks the bathroom for me. I run in, throw my suit on and run out. Please let me get to work on time!
I sit down in the meeting with a second to spare. Hottie Boss looks over at me and smiles. It was all worth it for that smile, and the confirmation that I’m in the clear with him for the time being. I’ll still get to do whatever I want.
And the next day, as I’m buying my usual salad at lunch from the top floor of the food court at the Manhattan Mini Mall, a guy walks over to me and hands me a note. I don’t recognize him at first, but it’s one of the guys who had let me into the bathroom the day before. The note says, “Dear YOU” in capitals, “We would love to take you out. Love, Joey and Vinny.” It’s hard not to laugh to myself. Maybe there is something to this getting up early in the morning thing after all.