Where I work you need a magnetized photo keycard card to get in. Most people I work with wear the card on a lanyard around their necks, something I thought I would never do until getting locked out of my floor a few times when no one else was around and schlepping down thirty floors to security in the lobby. Now, I ride the subway every morning with my ID flopping against my front, like a school kid on a field trip. Some people clip their cards to their belts. Others slip it into the back pocket of jeans and if the jeans are tight enough, never take it out, just slam their butts against the security box on the wall, a startling practice that mystified me at first.
My ID photo is recent, taken this fall when I started, but most photos date back a few years--sometimes five or ten. (This place is known for its retention factor.) So I receive disconcerting reminders throughout the day of how this business can age you. My partner is a parent of two with a practical mom haircut, but in her photo, she’s carefree and childless, with long curls and bangs. A disgruntled middle-aged art director leans across my desk and an image of his younger, happier self swings into view: full head of hair, no dark circles under his eyes, a smile exuding optimism only a new job can bring. (Mazel tov, Jane.)