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February 28, 2012

Today’s New York Observations:

* Where do you people mail things? I tried two post offices, both closed. There are no mailboxes on the street since 9/11. I am considering tossing my envelope out the window and watching it drift slowly away, hoping it might land somewhere useful. Or I could just beg someone in the mailroom to take it for me.

* On the way home today, I passed a father and son discussing Wayne Gretzky. “You know,” said the dad, “when I was a kid I used to play hockey down at Chelsea Piers with his son.” The boy’s conversation had already moved on, but dad was stuck in reminiscence.

* Approaching my building, I hear the clatter of hooves. Down my cobblestone street, three enormous horses trot, topped with policemen. Even in New York, there are some things that make everyone stop and stare.

As some of you know, I’ve been trying to take off the weight I’ve put on since embarking on this crazy schedule last August. I’ve been having some success with W8 watchers (WW) online, but when my office offered to pay for three months of membership, I jumped at the chance and today went to my first WW meeting, held in a conference room at my office. I was very nervous about going, but it turned out to be rather entertaining for a number of reasons. First, I discovered two of the people I work with fairly regularly are attending. Second, the woman running it is pretty entertaining and has a classic New York accent. Her career is running meetings for toy factories. I find this a hilarious niche market, but it makes sense because toy makers work long hours and sit at their desks all day. She talked to us today about making the time to get exercise.

“You need 10,000 steps a day just to maintain. I had a woman a while ago who wore a pedometer and learned she only took 800 steps the whole day.”

Someone audibly gasped. “In New York?!” she said, looking shocked. We all looked shocked.

“No, no. Not in New York.” What a patently ridiculous idea. You can’t get to the subway in 800 steps. “No, she lived in the suburbs.” We all looked at each other knowingly.

There were a couple of social divides within the company that were evident in the room.

1. There could be an Upstairs/Downstairs sort of relationship between the Toy Makers and the support staff. The Toy Makers all have masters degrees and many have Ph.Ds. The support staff often just has a high school degree. The two groups don’t mix too often except in line at the mail room. But it was an amazingly congenial group. I know I paint the Toy Factory as some kind of Utopian space, but really, it seems like that sometimes. I wish the atmosphere could be exported. I think we would all be better off. Surely there is someone mean and petty who works here, but if there is, I haven’t met them yet. The worst I’ve seen is occasionally crabby.

2. There are the Toymakers, who are mostly around my age, and the Assistant Toymakers and Toymaker’s assistants. Yes, these are two different job titles. No, I’m not sure what the difference is beyond the fact that one of them gets paid a little more. The Assistants are all in their 20s, skinny, and stylish. The rest of us…aren’t. And this was true of the group in the room. The younger ones didn’t look like they needed to be there. The rest of us…did. Sigh.

Other things that were pleasantly surprising was weighing in. I was dreading that, expecting some kind of public shaming. But not only are you in a room with just you and the person doing the weighing, but you don’t even have to know what your weight is. If you want, they’ll write it down for you and the next week will tell you how much it has changed.

And it was neither overly pep talky nor boot campy. The meeting leader told it like it was, encouraged us to talk to each other about challenges. My intelligence was not insulted and, since my coworkers are hilarious, I laughed a lot. So while I’m not generally much of a joiner, I think I can probably do this.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    February 28, 2012 8:02 pm

    God, this reminds me that I am probably that 800 stepper right now. I sit at my desk, in my car, in the library. I do walk to the library so there’s that but yeah. Hard to find time for that and I”m not even doing yoga these days. Sigh.

    Glad you liked the meeting. I’ve canceled my online subscription for now but the discipline is still there. I might be ignoring it but it’s there. Everything I eat now has a number attached. Points. How many points? I wish you luck with the program. I think if you can stick with it, you’ll find it works. Takes F.O.R.E.V.E.R. but it works.

  2. February 28, 2012 8:07 pm

    There’s a mailbox right outside my building on Grand Street. I’m sure there’s one in your neighborhood, too. Also: where are these closed post offices? There are a couple of those in walking distance from my apartment, too. And I just found this: It has post office locations, too.

  3. February 28, 2012 8:42 pm

    I am more of a 300 stepper. So you’ll always be way ahead.

  4. February 28, 2012 8:52 pm

    I need to get a new pedometer. Last time it turned out that I walked more than I thought I did, but not enough.

  5. February 29, 2012 12:16 am

    I’ve done the online program before but never attended meetings (also not a joiner). But I have to do something to turn around the weight gain I’ve had thanks to adding grad school on top of an already packed work and family schedule. I know I’m not going to be happy when warmer weather means fewer clothing layers! Congrats on making the first step.

  6. Lass permalink
    February 29, 2012 9:37 am

    Good luck – I enjoyed my meetings for very different reasons – namely the waaaaay too enthusiastic meeting leader who looked and sounded like a living version of Peggy Hill. But, I digress. Go, fight, win!

  7. February 29, 2012 1:26 pm

    Huh – I can think of four or five mailboxes between my office and the subway. And two post offices.

    I just downloaded a pedometer app for my phone… curious about how much I do/don’t walk.

  8. February 29, 2012 3:55 pm

    I usually mail things from work. No one seems to mind as long as the postage is already paid.

    The divide between city dwellers and suburbanites is funny – I definitely noticed the change when I started driving to work instead of the walk/train/walk commute, and mine wasn’t even that much walking. But a few blocks in either direction does add up, especially if you don’t make a big effort to replace it. Right now I don’t even want to think about steps per day. Today maybe fifty. We are a little bit cabin fevered here.

  9. Harriet M. Welsch permalink*
    February 29, 2012 7:35 pm

    I must just take the wrong streets. There are two post offices by my office, but both were locked at lunchtime yesterday. My envelope needs weighing, so I need to go to the post office, otherwise I would just take it to the mailroom. I’m sure they’d do it, but it would be complicated for them and I don’t want to make them deal with it.

    Magpie, I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to look for an iphone app, but I downloaded one today too, although I forgot to turn it on for the commute home. I’m kind of curious about the difference between NY and Chicago, which I’m sure is vast.

    LSM, I’m not sure I’ll survive the Illinois meetings, but the NY meetings will be doable.

    Lass, I was thinking about you the entire time. Where you had Peggy Hill, I have Fran Drescher.

    Julia, that’s to be expected. But I’d love to meet up with you soon. Perhaps we could get out for a walk with the stroller? I’m going to be home for nearly two weeks this time, and I’d really love to see you and meet that baby. I’ll email you when I get back.

  10. March 1, 2012 10:28 am

    Oh, for those Chicago days where the city/suburbs divide was simply 312/847. Now you’ve got your 630’ers and your 773’ers. Heck, even the suburb where I grew up has moved on from 256-XXXX and 251-XXXX to a whole host of new telephonic appendages.

    It’s so hard to figure out whom to feel superior to these days. . . .


  11. March 1, 2012 12:13 pm

    Hugh, you’re forgetting all the 815’ers! Maybe on purpose – everyone is superior to 815’ers.

    Harriet, that sounds good. Let me know when you have time, I am either very flexible or very not. 🙂

  12. Harriet M. Welsch permalink*
    March 1, 2012 8:10 pm

    Can I tell you how sad I was when my cell phone turned out to be an 815? I gave Mr. Spy my precious 312 cell phone number that I’d had for 15 years.

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