On my first day of work, I ran a few errands — credit card shenanigans, the like. I had slept at 10:30 pm the night before, and woke up with an uncharacteristic spring in my step at 6:30 in the morning. Considering my college schedule never involved me waking up earlier than 8:45 in the morning, this was incredible.
"Nervous?" asked the teller at Citibank.
"Very much so," I answered, nervously adjusting my blazer. I had bought a couple of pencil skirts and a blazer before I left for Chicago. What even is business casual, anyways?
At 7:30 I walked towards the Chicago Board Options Exchange building down LaSalle street — Chicago’s financial district. Hundreds and hundreds of business people swept by me, trenchcoats and all, Blackberries out, coffees in hand, heads down. Peppered along the street were solicitors, shouting at the passerby for a second of their time. Not a single person stopped.
"It’s just like Wall Street out here," I thought to myself, chuckling. "Everyone’s sold his or her soul to finance."
Right before crossing onto W. Jackson, I passed a group of protestors, who seemed to be advocating for a myriad of issues. Most of them seemed to be anti-war protest signs, with a couple calling for better allocation of government money. They stood peacefully, waving their signs every now and then to a generally unreceptive audience.
As I passed by, I made eye contact with one of the older ladies in the throng, and gave a closed-mouth smile. She returned the smile, but not after a visibly startled look passed over her face, like she couldn’t believe that I had noticed her. It was somewhat disconcerting for me as well, although I couldn’t really understand why.
And suddenly, I realized it: to her, I was already one of them. Walking fast, head down, one in a million nameless finance faces passing by in a split second.