When I was commuting to work in downtown Manhattan from Princeton, NJ in the early aughts, my trips would last over two hours each way and there wasn’t much else to do besides read the newspaper and have a cup of coffee. Smartphones and tablets weren’t around then and paper products were your only source of information until you got to your desk.
My ritual of purchasing a bagel, coffee, and newspaper (or two) was how I passed the time but also how I ramped up for the day. The calories, caffeine, and connection to the world around me prepared me for what was often a busy 10 hour day. I’d read the paper from cover to cover and I’d start with the Daily News and move on to the Wall Street Journal while I drank my coffee — finishing everything just before getting to Penn Station. Even though I still had to get downtown, I had the focus and clarity to handle whatever New York threw at me.
Now, depending on where my clients are, I walk to either the bus, ferry, or subway for work and the trips are often too short to get through a lot of news or a cup of coffee. Perhaps its fitting for a shortened news cycle or information contained in a tweet. But I miss the rituals my previous commute allowed. When I have the opportunity, I make myself a cup and take out my iPad and read all the in-depth analysis from the day before… and my day always starts off better when I do.