What to wear on a cold day like today commuting to work

By Anthony Buccino

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Repeat the hot-cold-hot-cold ritual until you get to work. Now, do you wear your scarf all day because your desk is near a vent? Or do you brace yourself for the thermostat wars?


Sure, it's cold here in northern New Jersey. About 17-degrees F as I write this. And the wind is kicking up something crazy and forcing the cold through your layers of clothes, through your skin, your bones and out the other side.

Yup. That's cold.

But how do you dress for weather like this?

If you drove your car to work, you could get away with normal clothes because once your car is warmed up, you're pretty much set until you get to work. If you work inside, you dress for it. If you work outside, then you put on as many clothes as you can and still move.

PATH commuter line, Coming into Harrison Station, Harrison, NJ

But what about the hapless commuters?

We have to wait outside for the DeCamp or NJ Transit bus. Maybe the bus stop has a shelter, but probably not.

And why is it that on the coldest day of the year, when you're waiting for the bus and you HAVE to look in one direction to see if the bus is coming, that's always the direction sending you the coldest blast of wind?

If you dress like someone who can see Russia from her house, then you are nice and toasty as that arctic blast tears at the seams and zippers in your clothes. But you are, for all intents and purposes, a warm hapless commuter.

Then your bus arrives and you're so happy to be out of the cold you step into the sauna where the dashboard says its 80-degrees.

Man, you can't unzip fast enough, or get your gloves off and your hood down and your hat off before you break out into a sweat just trying to get to your seat.

You ride your bus awhile, then get to the subway where it's cold and you have to wait outside.

You finally get on the drafty subway car, and it's not nearly as hot as the bus, but you unzip and take back your hood.

Then you get to Penn Station. It's comfortable. Until you head up to the NJ Transit train, the Acela or the PATH.

That platform seems colder than cold. Colder than your bus stop. Colder than your freezer full of Breyer's ice cream.

Repeat the hot-cold-hot-cold ritual until you get to work. Now, do you wear your scarf all day because your desk is near a vent? Or do you brace yourself for the thermostat wars?

All you can think of is going home.

- Happy trails!


This first appeared on NJ Voices, Jan. 14, 2009

Adapted from This Seat Taken? Notes of a Hapless Commuter

Read: Travels With Tonoose

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Anthony Buccino


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New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards.

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This Seat Taken? Notes of a Hapless Commuter by Anthony Buccino

This Seat Taken?
Notes of a Hapless Commuter