I had to work on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. I’ve done it before, mind you; when I was the day man I would come in at 7am and watch the marching bands get disgorged in front of the building and prepare their instruments and line up and march off towards CPW. These are some pictures I took the last Thanksgiving I worked, in 2009.
I would get off at 3 and get home in time to eat the lovely Danusia’s turkey, or go to wherever we’d been invited to that day.
There were tenants in the building that would say: “We’ll bring you down some turkey.” But nobody’s turkey was ever ready before 3, so that never happened in the 7 years I was the day man. But the next day the refrigerator in the shop would have half-eaten plates of turkey, mashed potatoes, congealed gravy and cranberry sauce that the evening guy couldn’t even finish, so I had high expectations on Thursday.
When I was preparing to leave for work that afternoon, I debated whether to take anything at all for dinner, and I figured, let me take at least a sandwich, if I get food, I can always leave it in the fridge for the next day. So I made my refried bean sandwich with jalapeño jack cheese and tomatoes, what I usually take with me. I took no snacks.
In the old days, there were usually ten or more big dinner parties in the building, and one stalwart, a guy from Tennessee, would do a deep-fried turkey in the back yard. Our new super put a stop to that.
Last Thursday there were four dinners, I know because I let the family and friends up. About ten tenants went out to other people’s homes, including one family going upstate where their friend was going to shoot a wild turkey. A few people went to restaurants, one ordered in, and one woman went to McDonald’s for a big Mac.
That only one person ordered in was a first for me on this shift. I usually get 15 to 30 food deliveries on the average Thursday.
A lot of people were away, so I pretty much sat by myself reading, doing the crossword puzzle and playing chess with myself on my iPhone; and waiting to see who was going to bring me some turkey.
Danusia was going to a dinner party that I was also invited to, and she’d baked a couple of her delicious apple and plum pies.
They look like this:
I declined to bring a piece to work, telling her I’d have a slice when I got home.
As the evening wore on, people would come in and say: “Happy Thanksgiving,” and I got tired of hearing it. I got even more peeved at hearing “Are you having a good Thanksgiving?” I wanted to say, “As good as it can be sitting here in the lobby holding the door open for you,” but I though better of it and just said “wonderful.”
A woman walked in, I used to consider her a nemesis, and she is a super-critical person who always has something negative to say. She was carrying some bags, and as she came into the lobby she reached in and pulled out a paper bag and handed it to me.
“Xavier, I made pecan pie, and this is for you.” I thanked her, and I realized that with time, people and relationships could change. We are actually starting to communicate, especially now that I’ve walked her dog. I appreciated the gesture, and I told her so.
By 9 o’clock I knew there was no turkey coming. I’d already eaten the slice of pecan pie and went down to the shop to get my sandwich, which I devoured without once having to get up and call about a delivery or open the door for someone. An hour later I was still hungry, not having brought any snacks in anticipation of all the goodies I was going to get, so I went down to the shop to see what was in the fridge.
There was a big Dunkin’ Doughnuts box with one doughnut left in it, the cellophane cover ripped open by someone who couldn’t be bothered to open the box for a doughnut. It had been there since the day before. I reached through the hole in the cellophane and took the last doughnut. It was sort of hard and a little stale, but it tasted wonderful.
When the night man showed up (late) I changed and walked down the block to the subway, feeling more than a little sorry for myself. I saw a bus coming and hopped on, I figured I’d ride over to the east side and take the number 6 down instead of the A train. I looked at the bus driver and said “Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Yeah, happy Thanksgiving.” I guess he felt pretty much the way I felt when people were saying it to me before, and made me realize I wasn’t the only one working and missing out on the holiday.
So, next Thanksgiving, add all of the people that have to work on the holiday to the list of what to be thankful for. Or be thankful that you don’t have to work, or go to MacDonald’s for dinner.