The last time I was in the Prudential office in Newark was 13 March 2020. Today, I went back. (RTW = return to work).
It was a miserable day for it: cold, damp, overcast. I had become very comfortable with my work-from-home morning routine: Wordle at breakfast, walk to the Hudson River, run up the Stevens steps (5X) and stretch, shower, dress, log in and start work. Commuting on NJ transit to the office used to be so normal, but now seems like an intrusion into my morning time.
The 20 minute Hoboken to Newark ride is is like a flashback to the Sopranos opening credits.
The NJ Transit trains had the same retro-70’s vibe as always (warm leatherette), but walking from the station in Newark there were scooters everywhere. Newark seems to have a scooter-share program now.
I had reserved a spot on our old floor, as no-one has a dedicated desk or office anymore. I needn’t have bothered as everyone else seems to like working from home: the building was nearly deserted. There were, maybe, half a dozen of us on our floor, which has space for at least a hundred.
In addition to reservable desks and offices, there is a lot of new open space to be used for “collaboration”. We did our best, and gathered almost everybody for a brainstorming session.
I was stymied for half the day because my laptop wouldn’t connect to the company network, so I spent a lot of unproductive time waiting for tech support to call back and then visit in person to work their network voodoo. Eventually, they got me up and running.
Then it was time for the commute home. Walking to the train station along Broad Street it was obvious that the pandemic was not kind to Newark. Many stores and cafés have been closed and boarded up. This was not uncommon in Newark before the pandemic as its urban renewal is still a work-in-progress, but things are noticeably worse now. That’s unfortunate.
The train ride home was quiet and uneventful, which is probably a good thing.