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“Finally, we can get out of here.” Rob muttered as he walked by Carl’s cubical. Who had just taken a glance at the time himself, five o-clock. Carl hopped out of his adjustable chair, scooped up his leather jacket, and headed for the elevator. He passed by his fellow workers who themselves were all heading home. The entire 150 foot floor was empty when Carl looked back while him and twenty others were waiting for their only trip out of there.  “Forget it I’m going to take the stairs.” A man too far in front of Carl to see said and took a right to the stairwell. A few others followed, but the pack was still strong.

Finally they heard the ‘ding’ that they had all been waiting for, and the steel plated doors opened with a rusty crumble. Everyone stumbled into the already tightly packed room. They all tried to adjust themselves to accommodate the remaining few. But regardless of how well they could play Tetris, they just couldn’t squeeze those few more blocks in. The doors closed once again leaving four sad faces behind, waiting for the next ride. Like all elevator trips, it was awkward. Nobody daring to speak, you’d probably expect the usual “Did you see the game last night?” or something like that, but not a word was spoken, all was deathly silent beside the cramping and cracking of the elevators joints.

Once again they head that relieving ‘ding.’ And most everyone let out a breath, as if they had just been on an hour long dive. Carl couldn’t see where he was going but just followed the trail of white shirts and jet black pants that he had seen everyone wearing all day. The herd was growing smaller, small pods of it breaking off at every exit in the tile floored, high ceiling lobby. Nevertheless Carl stuck the pack, after all there’s safety in numbers. They reached the main exit, ten glass doors all lined up in unison ready for opening. Carl slammed open the door temporarily holding it for the people behind him. It was a wet smoggy day in Manhattan; Carl lifted his gray leather jacked to cover his vulnerable neck.  

He only had a few dollars so he couldn’t take a cab, and had to settle for the bus or the subway. All of his co-workers headed for the lower east side. But his apartment was in the complete opposite direction. His usual preference was the bus, but there was not a bus stop in site, only an unpopular subway entrance. He dodged the puddles on the side walk until he reached the poorly lit hole in the ground, and walked right into it. He passed the stop & go station to pay the fee using his overused stop & go card. He continued down the stairwell to see a completely bare station, no people, no trains, no benches. Carl walked over to the center of the station where a map of the Manhattan subway tracks and stations were, and decided to go with train 5B, which would lead him four and a half blocks from his destination, Kathy’s Diner.