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Getting to work in London

The London commute

It is morning time here in London.

I’ve just woken up, got dressed, and walked to the tube with my husband. I’m wearing dark jeans and a burgundy button-down top with Nike sneakers under my big coat and scarf. He is looking “smart” (as they say here when you are well dressed) wearing his grey suit and brown leather shoes. We were rushing this morning because he had a meeting at 9am. The English are very, very punctual. I hear being right on time in corporate England is as good as late.

During the weekday mornings in our neighborhood, the streets are bustling with speed-walking and biking worker-bees hustling to get to the Tube to get to the office. The usually tranquil residential streets are suddenly alive with activity. You really have to pay attention to not get in the way and collide with a biker.

I can’t help but to wonder what all these determined individuals’ days will be like, where they work, and what they do. Where do the women in pencil skirts and stilettos work as they rush over uneven cobble stones? Where are the hipsters in mismatched casual wear on their way to? And what about the many suited-up professionals? What type of work do they do?

Also part of this stampede are runners and bikers dressed in professional-looking workout clothes (think black and neon spandex from head to toe) with sporty backpacks strapped tightly to their backs. It’s like they are trying to exaggerate the communication that they are working out.  “Don’t confuse this outfit with my usual smart style.”

I’m told that these individuals likely have access to showers at the office or gym and will change into their work clothes once they arrive by running.

The whole culture of getting to work here seems almost intimidating. But knowing many will likely be off by 5pm, and in a pub with a pint in hand by 5:30 makes their intense morning energy seem a bit less so.

When my husband and I got to the crossroads of where he turns left toward the tube on the high street (high street is the local name for main street – of which there are many all over London) and I go right, toward a handful of streets full of wifi-enabled cafes, we kissed goodbye for the day.

Now I find myself sitting inside a quaint, Italian-owned cafe waiting for a double cappuccino while John Denver’s “I’m leaving on a Jet Plane” plays over the speakers. Looking out the window those workers bees and red buses are still streaming by… time for me to get to work this morning too!

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