Then and now: A day downtown

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September 13, 2010 // UPDATED 9:07 am - September 13, 2010
By: Sarah McKenzie and Gregory J. Scott
Sarah McKenzie and Gregory J. Scott

// A fictional account comparing the life of a woman working in the city in 1970 to one today //


8:20 a.m. I get off the bus on Hennepin and start making the trek to Crown & Anchor in LaSalle Court for a cup of coffee. I feel like I’m on autopilot. This has been my routine for many Mondays now. The only change from last Monday is the new clogs I’m sporting. They are all the rage these days. I picked up a pair at Donaldson’s over the weekend.

9:30 a.m. Now I’m settled into my desk at work. I’ve been a clerk at the Farmers & Mechanics’ Skyway banking service for six months. Feels like a lifetime. The work is rather dull. I try to sneak in some reading when the boss isn’t looking. I start daydreaming of moving to New York City to become a writer.

10:45 a.m. My friend Marge drops off a copy of the Skyway News on my desk — a new rag I occasionally pick up for my bus ride home. I start skimming through it and come across the photo of one of my best friends, Sue Bailey. She’s been named “Miss Skyway” in the newspaper. Sue works as an art and design specialist for Minnegasco. I give her a ring at work and see if she can meet up later for a cocktail so I can tease her about her new fame.  

12:15 p.m. I start strolling through the skyways and decide I want to go to Power’s Luncheonette at Nicollet and 5th for a bite to eat. I order a turkey sandwich and contemplate a slice of pie. One of the bankers I work with saunters by and stands next to me long enough to make a sleazy pass at me — an annoying habit he’s developed over the past few weeks. I shrug it off and head to a corner table to enjoy my sandwich and apple pie. I fantasize about tossing one of the diner’s banana cream pies into that banker’s face.

2:20 p.m. Again, I’m daydreaming at work. Trying to take my mind off the seriously annoying string of customers I’ve had to deal with today. I start flipping through the Skyway News and notice an advertisement for wigs. The “Dutch Boy” wig looks very cute. I start imagining what I’d look like with that hairdo. Then I’m drawn to ads for the Monroe House on East Franklin and The Towers. I’ve gotten sick of my Richfield apartment.

4:10 p.m. I dip out of work early to meet Sue Bailey (aka Miss Skyway) at Murray’s for a special ladies’ cocktail hour. We each get a snack and cocktail for $1.75. I start poking fun of her about being named Miss Skyway and ask for her autograph on a napkin.

6:30 p.m. We head to Charlie’s for dinner. We’re both addicted to the Chicken Kiev. While we wait for our dinner to arrive, I start venting about my boyfriend Peter. He’s notorious for being a ladies’ man. Lately he’s been more full of himself and I tell her that I’m doubting whether he’s “the one.” Sue tells me about a neighbor she’d like set me up with on a date. He works for the Lutheran Brotherhood.

8 p.m. Sue tries to drag me to see a late showing of “Women in Love” at the Downtown World Theater, but I convince her instead to check out the new Depot nightclub. We catch a local band we’ve never heard before and grab another drink, both commenting on the attractiveness of the band’s lead guitarist.

10:15 p.m. I jump into bed and open “Love Story,” a bestseller by Erich Segal. Soon I’m interrupted by a phone call from my mother. She asks if Peter and I can come over for dinner on Sunday. I begrudgingly say yes and tell her I’ll bring a casserole.


7 a.m. Alarm goes off. Awake to the infuriating cheer of Steve Seel and Jill Riley on the Current’s morning show. Go to hit snooze, but the DJs remind me that Jeremy Messersmith is playing First Ave’s Mainroom tonight. My friend Leann just started serving at the Depot and has comps. Said she’d leave one at the box office for me. Before getting out of bed, I make a note on a Post-it to swing by over my lunch break.

8 a.m. Nice day. No way I’m dealing with the bus. Odds of running into a fellow “Team member” on the 6 are way too high. Decide to give the new bike-sharing program a shot. I’ll have to wear Pumas with my pencil skirt and change into heels once I get to Nicollet Mall, but whatevs.
I swipe my credit card at the Uptown Lunds kiosk, move through the touch screen and grab my big, nerdy, neon green bike. The rack makes a satisfying “ching.”

8:15 a.m. Nice Ride my foot. I forget how stressful it is cycling Downtown. It still feels weird going north on Hennepin. And even though the green striped bike lane helps, cars still pretty much dominate the roadway. Make it to my kiosk, sweaty but in one piece. Smooth out the suit and start booking it to the office.
Run into a team member anyway. Listen to her gush about last night’s production of “Wicked” at the Orpheum. “Best cast ever!”

10:30 a.m. Two hours of spreadsheets crawl by. iPhone beeps. Graphic designer friend wants to meet up for a Target break. I sneak out, taking the skyway to avoid the petition seekers and their clipboards on the Mall. Note that Macy’s is having a sale on shoes. Target is bustling, street people mixing with suits. In the checkout line, a designer friend brags about Macy’s Glamorama. Says his whole office went on the client’s dime. And that Macy Gray was a bore. Then he checks in on Four Square. Guy tries to be the mayor of everything, even a retail giant.

12 p.m. Lunch break. Time for the ticket run. I make it out to Nicollet Mall having forgotten completely that Thursday is farmers market day. The sidewalks are jammed like it’s New York City. I’m knifing through crowds and trying not to collide with the ubiquitous Joe Mauer statues. The buskers are out. I see that sad clown guy, standing forlornly near a flower stall. (Bouquets are amazingly only $5.) Decide to give a dollar to the guy playing the trumpet. Make it to First Ave. Ogle the fresh stars painted on the side. (Who the heck is Gwar?) Swoop up my ticket no problem. Doors open at 8.

12:17 p.m. Decide to detour over to Target Plaza and check out the new Twins stadium. Looks like a few other people have the same idea. The Wave, that huge reflective wall installation, is shimmering nicely. I remind myself to check the dates on the work tickets I got earlier in the year. Maybe I’ll take my dad. Out of time, I swing by the Turkey To Go food cart for a sandwich, which I eat back at my desk.

3 p.m. Check’s Biz Buzzes. Looks like a wine shop is opening in the skyway. Thank god. Twitter feed tells me the Chef Shack is giving away free donuts. I sneak out for a bag and return with a bit of sugar on my lips.

5 p.m. Work’s over. Just a few more hours until Jeremy, which means I grab my Pumas and rush over to Life Time Fitness for 45 minutes on the elliptical. Catch sales figures talk in the locker room.

7 p.m. Sipping drinks on the patio of Barrio with Leann, who had to schedule tonight off weeks in advance. Get hit on by a sales guy I know with overly gelled hair. Leann rolls eyes. Spying one of those yellow pedicabs, we decide to ride in style to the venue. Hop on the cushy seat and roll the few blocks to First Ave.

8:30 p.m. Tickets in hand, we skip the longer line and breeze through the shorter one, the one reserved for ticket holders. Feel vaguely VIP.

11 p.m. A spectacled Messersmith takes the stage, opens with “A Girl, a Boy, and A Graveyard.” I almost tear up.

1 a.m. Leann suggests a nightcap at Kieran’s Irish Pub, but I’m thinking about my alarm clock again. Feel envious of server schedules. I kiss her on the cheek and then quickly flag a cab. Cruise south on Hennepin feeling content. Turn to catch the skyline. Wells Fargo Center glowing in the night. Lovely.