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Your Morning Triggers, Solved

How to cope with a packed-to-the-gills 6 train, a painful elevator ride with the boss, and other downers that can start you off on the wrong foot.

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Illustrations by Peter Arkle  

A crack-of-dawn garbage truck
“You have to get the Marpac Dohm-DS Dual Speed Sound Conditioner ($55 at www.marpac.com). I live just off Bedford Avenue, and the street noise is bad, with people going past our windows all hours. But when I keep this on high, it muffles everything.” —Adrienne Kearney, sign-language interpreter, Williamsburg


A chronic inability to get out of bed
“I tried everything to help me wake up in the morning—a flying alarm clock, calls from friends—but nothing worked. That inevitably led me to be late for work and snowballed into an overall bad day. Finally, about four years ago, I started searching for personal assistants on Craigslist and found one who would be my ‘waker-upper.’ Just like that, the problem was fixed: Nadia comes to my apartment with coffee, rings the bell until I answer it, and stays until I leave for work. It’s like having a mom there, or one of the housemaids like they have on Downton Abbey. She charges $30 (including the price of my coffee), and I know that might sound crazy to some people—but it’s cheaper than therapy.” —Amy Meselson, attorney


An awkward elevator ride with your boss
“Instead of commenting on the cold spell we’ve been having, use the elevator ride to your advantage—and be a little freaky. That’s the way to make an impression. Ask, ‘Who is your favorite English duke?’ (there are ten nonroyal dukes, and mine is the Duke of Devonshire) or ‘What’s your favorite Pepperidge Farm cookie?’ (mine is Brussels). Launch right in with no preamble. At least, that’s how I do it.” —Mickey Boardman, editorial director, Paper magazine


A coffeehouse line that’s dozens deep
“Tell us everything when you order: what kind of milk and the size you want. If we don’t have to ask, it speeds things up. But my best advice is to find your favorite coffee shop and stay loyal. Most of our customers are much-loved regulars, and we take pride in knowing their order. We’ll spot them at the back of the line, and by the time they get to the counter, their coffee is waiting for them” —Lena Khoury, co-owner, Fika coffee shops


Feeling utterly incapable of hitting the gym
Take some words of encouragement from a few SoulCycle yellers-trainers: “Every day is a new chance to change your life!” [1] “It’s up to you what kind of day you’ll have, what kind of life you’ll lead!” [2] “We don’t have time for yesterday—accomplish what you want today!” [3] “Inspire change in yourself! Inspire change in those around you! Make the change! Be the change!” [4] “It’s easier to wake up early and work out than it is to look in the mirror each day and not like what you see!” [5]

[1] Taye Johnson, Union Square studio; [2] Jolie Walsh, Noho studio; [3] Emily Turner, Tribeca studio; [4] Stevie Santangelo, 19th Street studio; [5] Louise Gassman, West 77th Street studio.


An insanely crowded subway car
“Get to know which cars are emptier at which stations and how people ride (I ride the 2/3 from Brooklyn, and the front of the train is always more crowded due to those who get out at Times Square). And if you do find yourself in a congested car, follow the golden rule: Head toward the middle. Straphangers tend to gather closer to the doors; the center has more breathing space.” —Benjamin Kabak, creator, Second Avenue Sagas blog




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