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Tag: Metro North

Where to Buy a Belt before 9am near Grand Central Terminal

If you forget your belt after leaving for your commute to New York City, all is not lost. Here’s the solution I found within steps of Grand Central.

The fundamentals of dressing oneself properly isn’t a topic that should require much attention. We all know the rules. Sure, we can discuss fashion, but the basics of covering up your birthday suit doesn’t usually require much thought. And that’s sometimes the problem.

It’s when you’re rushing off to work on autopilot and not paying attention that little mistakes can crop up.

  • Mismatched socks
  • A forgotten tie (when jacket and tie were standard wear)
  • Shirt sleeve cuff buttons misaligned into the wrong holes

These little errors can happen to anyone. (I’m certainly guilty of the occasional ‘I dressed myself too quickly’ faux pas.) None of this is catastrophic. But what do you do if you forget a more structurally important item… such as your belt?

I’ve got a friend who recently experienced this problem. Here’s his story.
(Okay… it was me.)

Help! I Forgot my Belt!
No, it wasn’t such a big deal, and yes, I could have gotten through the day with slightly looser pants on my waist without risking a wardrobe malfunction. But I didn’t feel right, and it was bothering me while I sat on my Metro North commuter train.

I figured as I headed to Grand Central Terminal that there must be thousands of ways to solve the problem and still be at my desk by 9am.
Hey, this is New York City!

I thought back to pre-pandemic days when men’s clothing stores in Midtown Manhattan were open early to handle commuter traffic. (My go-to store is usually Charles Tyrwhitt. Their shirts with ‘proper’ collars can’t be beat.)

But on the train ride, as I held my iPhone and Googled the hours of men’s clothing stores near Grand Central Terminal, I was awakened to another painful example of our new normal.

At 8:30am, stores are still closed.

All except for one.

A Lone Outpost in the Center of Everything
It’s the Men’s Wearhouse at 360 Madison Avenue (45th and Madison).

That store opens at 8:30am. (All of their other branches in New York City open at 10am.)

As I walked by at 8:40am, this Men’s Wearhouse actually looked closed. The darkened windows obscured any activity. But as I peered in, I spotted blurry movement. I walked up to the door and pulled.

And the portal opened!

As I entered, I still wasn’t entirely certain the store was actually ready for business. It was empty, save for one salesman at the register.

I walked up and cautiously asked… “belts?”

He pointed to the back without looking up. I continued on.

I’ve Joined the Club
So I quickly found a black belt and brought it back to the salesman.

As he started to ring it up, I suddenly felt this intense need to confess. So I told him my story.

He finally looked directly at me and gently explained that belts are actually their hottest-selling item in the early morning. My story was not so unique after all.

He handed me the receipt and asked if I wanted him to cut off the tags so I could wear the belt out of the store.

I smiled.

Tame your Inner Vecna
I walked out of the Men’s Wearhouse with my new belt around my waist and a feeling of great accomplishment.

Sure, you’ve got to roll with the punches, and if you forget your belt, it’s not the end of the world. Stranger things can happen.

But with the past two and a half years feeling a bit like the upside down, it’s especially sweet when you have the opportunity to take back a little control.

Ode to the Distant Tracks at Grand Central Terminal

As a Metro North commuter to Manhattan, I’ve found certain tracks take more time to walk to than others on my way back to Connecticut. When rushing to catch your ride, you never want that faraway gate. Here’s a poem that tells my story.

Stairway to Tracks 23 and 24

The track to take, you just don’t know.
Your walk is fast. There is no time.
To find your train and claim your seat.
Or lose your spot. Then stand and whine.

The odds get worse if train is Red.
The track it’s on can seal your fate.
Easy to reach or Outer Rim?
This is how you will miss your date.

Upper level gates no hurry.
But basement level spans further.
It’s like moving through Tatooine.
You’ll have to sprint. Feels like murder.

Teens and twenties, easy to reach.
But beware twenty three and four.
You think you’re there. Then more to go.
Two more staircases? Now you roar!

Then there’s eleven on the end.
It feels like you are lost backstage.
Garbage bags and metal shards stacked.
Now you’re walking through the bronze age.

Red transports I take up the coast.
So don’t know what other droids feel.
But where are the good tracks for me?
The trek can feel a bit unreal.

Sure, here I complain and kvetch.
What‘s wrong with a few more minutes?
If that’s a pain, the fault is more.
A track shouldn’t test one’s limits.

Still, it would be nice if we shared.
The good tracks and the naughty ones.
A rotation to split the fun.
And then we would all move our buns.

I expect there is some logic.
For how these Vulcan pods are stashed.
Could change come from just one poem?
Perhaps my high hopes won’t get dashed.

More Odes by Barrett:

Helpful Tips for the Return to your Suburban Train Commute

If you’ve been wondering what it’s going to be like to commute again, here’s what I’ve recently experienced when I resumed my train ride to New York City.

I’ve been working from home for the better part of the past eighteen months. Though it’s surprising how much one is able to accomplish with remote video production technologies, the best video creation moments are often achieved through face-to-face interactions.

Yes, I know we’re still in the middle of the pandemic. But I’m vaccinated, and you can’t really stay in the bubble of your home forever. So, it was inevitable that the time would come for me to resume my train commute from Connecticut. Last week, I returned to my daily treks to New York City on Metro North.

If you’re on the cusp of your own return to the office and are about to restart your daily commute, you may need a few days to get back into the swing of things. That first week can feel like a marathon.

Here are some notes from my own experience.

Don’t Stray from your Pre-Commute Schedule
It’s an obvious point, but you can no longer simply roll out of bed and switch on your computer to begin your work day. You need to give yourself enough time to get presentable and out the door. (Zoom sweatpants don’t usually work in public settings.)

And you’ve got to move quickly. As I’ve said to my eleven-year-old son, the train doesn’t wait for you. You’ve got to be there when it arrives.

Yes, I made it to my train platform in time, but those last few minutes were uncomfortably tight. (On one day, I was running so late that I was forced to leave behind my beautiful bowl of oatmeal mixed with apples, raisins and banana.)

Say Goodbye to your Refrigerator
Speaking of food, if you’ve grown accustomed to your particular morning and afternoon snacks, you’ve now got to pack them. Sure, there’s plenty of food available in New York City, but it can be inconvenient to have to go out and hunt for it, especially when you’re hungry.

Unfortunately, your own fridge isn’t around the corner anymore.

Enjoy the Empty Train Ride
Happily, my usually packed parking lot had plenty of open spots for my car. And the Metro North trains I took were all relatively empty. Middle seats remained unoccupied, and nobody had to stand. Social distancing was easy.

And yes, everyone behaved and wore a mask.

Prepare for More Steps in your Day
Like me, you’ll probably see this as a real benefit. (Sitting in your home office can quickly generate a sedentary existence.)

While more walking is great, you may unexpectedly find yourself a little tired at the end of those first days. (I did.)

It’s simply a change of pace, and you’ve got to get used to it again.

Get More Sleep
Your commute will, of course, cut into your former non-travel free time. You may feel the urge to say up later at night to find that additional hour for ‘me time.’ But I think stealing from sleep is an unsustainable solution. It may seem counterintuitive, but if anything, you’re going to need a little more sleep for a while. That should help your body and mind accommodate your new schedule.

I baked a little more sleep into my rotation and found it really helpful in handling my next day.

Time to Stream!
Commuting on a Metro North train is a relatively comfortable experience. And it’s simple to pull out your smartphone or laptop and pretend that you’ve never left your home office. Or if you want to catch up on your Netflix fix, a train commute can be a perfect time for that.

Yay!

Expect an Adjustment
The reality is the train commute is mostly the same as before the pandemic, except that there aren’t as many people (at least not yet).

The real difference is simply having to get used to it again. It can take a few days.

As you get back to your own future, I recommend that you plan for this adjustment period.

Good luck and be safe!

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