Staff Writer William Lyman explores magazine subscriptions and the journey to Wien on a rainy day.

Ah, this time again. Before the year started you signed up for a magazine subscription, just some light reading that you’d thought you’d be able to do. But here you are, receiving yet another “[Wien Mail Center] New Mail Alert — [Columbia Student]” email about how more is coming in and suddenly time is running out. 

It’s raining today, but it’s now or never. What are you going to wear? Which route are you going to take? You leave your building, desperately clutching that $5 umbrella you bought last year, hoping it can hold. It’s so far, so far and so cold. 

As you move past Butler you feel a burst of warm air emerging from the doors stuck open, blasting yourself and the bench smokers with a taste of summer. It’s so warm. I haven’t seen the sun in years. You think for a second about entering, leaving the package center behind and cozying up in the reading room with an overpriced tea and a pastry. 

Come to think of it, that subscription to the New Yorker you bought, it’s completely pointless. You don’t even have enough time or the attention span to read it. You’re a poser, a fraud. 

But alas, you must continue, moving up low plaza towards Kent, pausing at the construction site. What are they doing there? You ask, but no answer will ever come. You wonder if it’s finally opening the tunnels, so that we can be spared from these rainy days, these cold nights with no stars, and the crippling burden of seasonal affective disorder. 

As you approach Wien, you notice the doors are beginning to close automatically. You race to the door, but it’s too late. The attendant behind the desk sees your shame. You enter. 

Down in the package center, you scan in and then depart down the hallway. You wonder why the entrance to the area must be past the exit. Walking down to the entrance, how do you pass the exit? Do you turn as you walk and smile? Do you pretend it’s not there? You feel like a runway model on some twisted catwalk, except you’re wearing sweatpants and forgot to do your hair today. 

You smile and make small talk as you sign for your packages, only for a single magazine to come out. You stare at it. Was it worth it?

photo via Bwog archives