I LOVE figuring out new little lifehacks like that to make my commute/day/life that tiny bit better. In fact, it’s fair to say that lifehacks are something of a hobby of mine. I don’t mean Lifehacker as in the tech-oriented Web site, I mean real life’s little shortcuts, tricks and tips—cheat codes—that make everyday life a little easier, cheaper, better.
Every New Yorker, whether they realize it or not, knows plenty of lifehacks specifically applicable to the City—how to get a cab faster, how to find sample sales, where the best/cheapest coffee cart is, etc. I’ll be sharing some of mine here from time to time, including this one (my newest):
I recently made a small change to my commute that’s made a big difference to my peace of mind: instead of walking east from Penn Station via 32nd Street every morning, I now take 34th Street. It’s a completely counterintuitive route to my office, because it’s less direct than 32nd and it’s extremely crowded and it’s Tourist Boulevard, which means that it’s not merely crowded but crowded with people handing out useless things like free crappy newspapers and flyers for interchangeable tuna avocado wrap–heavy lunch places, and crowded with small groups of people who are all together and thus moving very slowly and impossible to get around and who suddenly stop short to stare at a store or take a free crappy newspaper and then make a sharp right turn and, just as you’re finally getting around them, one of them sticks out an arm in full wingspan mode to make the universal “I think it’s this way” gesture of mildly disoriented sightseers.
But it’s still better than taking 32nd Street, because:
1) it’s cleaner;
2) it’s prettier;
3) it’s got wider sidewalks which, despite being filled with more people, are actually less full;
4) the traffic lights are timed better for my natural walking speed (on 32nd, I have to jog the last 10 yards of every avenue to make the lights).
That said, on the way back to Penn every evening I still take dirty, ugly, crowded ole’ 32nd Street, because, like I mentioned, it’s more direct, and the foot traffic on 34th is much slower at night thanks to a higher percentage of tourists. Scenery be damned, I ain’t missing my train home.