It was a frigid February morning in Manhattan. The kind that makes you want to stay in bed all day with the curtains drawn doing nothing but binge ordering pizza on seamless and drinking red wine to warm your insides. I walked briskly with my chin buried into my now damp scarf, judging without looking up that I only had about 30 more seconds of this brutal, stinging cold before I would be walking into the warmth of my work’s lobby. I didn’t dare raise my head to see, for fear of my ski-jump nose freezing off right then and there. Finally, the sidewalk turned to the grey slate and I knew I had arrived. I extracted my face from my Madewell scarf and practically dove into the rotating doors that would deposit me safely into a warmer climate.
Hearst Tower is one of the most impressive buildings in Manhattan. Although I had been working there for more than six months, I had yet to take for granted the striking design or otherworldly lobby. This building housed some of the best publications in the world, and there wasn't a single morning that I didn't get a little rush knowing I worked here.
I was three months out of college when I snagged my current job as a Marketing and Social Media Coordinator at Platform Magazine. Upon initial assessment, it was the dream job. After six months of 60 hour weeks, I regretted my budding career path with every e-mail, meeting and phone call. The work was superficial, my coworkers were petty and my entire attitude between the hours of 8am and 8pm was becoming alarmingly perfunctory. Every day was the same. I would roll out of bed around 7am and have a battle with my walk-in closet, which 9 times out of 10 ended with me exasperated and looking more disheveled than I had when I awoke. I would gulp down coffee and shove anything in sight into my mouth before rushing out the door and braving the bipolar New York weather for the fifteen minutes it took to walk to work. Then, I would spend the next 10-12 hours doing tedious, boring tasks and fending off devious eyed coworkers, who while they ask how you are, are really just fishing for clues to any weakness they could use to rise above you on the corporate chain. The only exception to the devil coworker stereotype was Elena. Around my age and a graduate of Penn State as well, Elena and I had forged an alliance during the tough first weeks of our internship.
It was nearly eight that evening when I turned off my Mac and started down the hall toward the elevators. Despite the late hour, more than half of the office lights were still on and I could hear the steady dim of my coworkers typing away at their computers. The sound made me feel guilty for leaving, but the churn of my empty stomach reminded me it was time to go home. I pressed the down button on the elevator firmly and took a step back, staring at the numbers as they ascended from L to the 28th floor.
When the doors opened, the elevator was blissfully empty. There is nothing like an awkward silence or worse yet, a forced conversation, to make the two dozen floor journey unbearable. I leaned against the back wall and let the steel box carry me down toward the lobby.
I was mentally debating between general taos chicken and pizza as began the slow trek to my apartment in Hells Kitchen. A light snow had begun to fall and was matting my hair down in the most unattractive way possible.
I was fumbling for my phone to text my best friend, Ashley, when I felt it. I had always had an uncanny sense for things, and this was no exception. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up when I caught a glimpse of the faded Steve Madden brown leather dress shoes that had stopped abruptly in my path.