It’s a tough life for a person who has to work outside the home. I do pretty well for myself in the afternoon with the food I bring from home. For the past month or so I have changed my workout routine significantly enough that I get a lot hungrier in the morning than a cup of coffee can ever hope to cover. So the question is, what do I do in the morning when the appetite is there but the need to get to work in a timely manner competes?
I should probably backtrack to the way things were before I changed around my workout routine and my hours at work were shifted ever so slightly. For three or so months I lived with in a friend’s apartment — he stayed with his father in Washington Heights during the week and would come to his apartment for the weekend. I would, therefore, spend every weekend with either of my parents so my friend could have full, private, use of his place.
For the duration of the time I was living in my friend’s apartment, I would wake up at around six in the morning, do a ten minute workout, shower, and go to the 7:10 minyan and then would come back to the apartment for about an hour before going to work.
When I moved to Kew Gardens in late July, I decided to try a little experiment. I thought I would see if I could get up at five instead of six and so I would have more time to work out. The schedule was to be like this: Wake up at five, work out until about five forty, get ready to go, get on a Long Island Railroad train going to Penn Station, take an express subway to the Upper West Side, pray at the same time as usual, hang out at Starbucks for awhile, then take another express subway to midtown and go to work.
For a few weeks this worked out pretty well. I went into the same Starbucks every morning and ordered the same beverage — a drip coffee in a mug to stay. It wasn’t too long before they recognized me when I came in and started pouring the coffee before I could even kindly ask them to do so. I noticed that most people who came in and took their drinks to stay did not take the option of having their drinks in a ceramic mug. They also ate the prepared food out the paper to go bags rather than asking for plates.
I suppose it was for the best that my schedule was changed up in two ways. For one, my work hours shifted to be an hour earlier. Then it was made clear to me by my office that they would not be able to cover both my Long Island Railroad tickets and my subway metro card under the TransitChek program.
TransitChek enables employees to deduct the cost of mass transit out of salaries before any taxes are taken out of them, so the net effect is that the employees pay a little less in taxes and more people use mass transit. It was okay with me that I would have to start attending the local synagogue — it meant that I could get to meet more people in the community. Indeed, that is exactly the effect that it has had.
However, the combination of no longer having the cup of coffee in the morning and having just a bit more time thanks to my new transit routine (about half an hour more thanks to not having to take the subway twice in the morning) meant that I was working out more and taking in fewer calories. Also, it was becoming abundantly clear that a cup of coffee was not the protein source that my body wanted after nearly an hour of sometimes intensive exercise.
I discovered that the 7-Eleven on the way to the train station carries small sandwiches that easily fit in my coat pocket and they are stuffed with my choice of tuna fish, egg salad, or avocado — along with a few varieties of these. What distinguishes these sandwiches from ordinary kosher sandwiches is that they are made with so-called “Mezonos” rolls.
Normally, when a person consumes bread as a part of a meal, they must wash their hands in a certain manner and then recite a certain blessing before eating the meal. After the meal there is a lengthy after-blessing called Bircas Hamazon, known as the Grace after Meals. This is okay when you are in your home or in an environment where you can comfortably sit at a table but when you’re waiting at a train station it is hardly ideal. The difference between an ordinary bread roll and these rolls is the introduction of apple juice to the dough – the slight difference makes all the difference in the world in the perspective of the Jewish law when it comes to whether or not one needs to wash.
Therefore, I have established a daily routine of picking up one of these pocket sandwiches every morning on the way to the train station and enjoying it with one of a few bottles of water I keep filled from the tap at home. I have established some sort of a relationship with the gentleman that works at the store but it isn’t nearly as involved as the one I had at Starbucks — I reckon that he probably sees a lot more people over the course of the day and doesn’t necessarily feel the need to keep up any sort of personable relationship. I keep on telling him that he should establish a penny pail and he has the same reaction every time I suggest it, as if he has never seen me before or I am living some sort of Groundhog Day.
Time will only tell how long this daily ritual will continue. I already have been researching how to bake my own Mezonos rolls online and am figuring out the best way to get the other ingredients in a cost effective manner. Until then, of course, I can continue to work on relationshaping with the 7-Eleven shop worker.
Terrific article, Gordon. I love the meaningful quest for food you can eat and enjoy. The TransitChek conundrum could’ve been an article in itself. I’m amazed that just adding apple juice changes the whole meaning of “bread” for you.
Yeah, it makes it closer to cake than bread which has its own set of rules to it. We of the Jewish faith are like scientists. Give us a measuring cup and we’ll show you where the rules are. 🙂
(Maybe I will write a separate article about the TransitChek dilemma!)