Today I went to the Realty Adjudication Board to meet with my union rep and FINALLY settle the matter of my being terminated from my job at 144 West 86th Street.
The word terminated has some serious connotations, and I will always remember the scene in Apocalypse Now when Harrison Ford tells Martin Sheen to terminate the fictional Col. Kurtz played by the now deceased Marlon Brando.
Then the CIA guy named Jerry says: “Terminate with extreme prejudice.” These guys were serious.
And so the people I’ve been dealing with, the building manager who gave the word, the super who did not back me up or put in a good word on my behalf, and the Human Resources guy at Rudin management, I guy I’ve never met and doesn’t know me but fought tooth and nail to give me the rawest deal possible.
Originally I was told I would be getting 8 weeks severance pay, but it turns out they only want to give me 5 weeks.
“Are you OK with that?” Asked the rep.
“What are my options?” I asked.
“Well, we could go to a hearing, but you know the case, you haven’t got much of a chance of winning.”
I wonder why he asked in the first place.
“Let’s get it over with.” I said. The last time I got fired I think I got two weeks pay, so this is progress. He had the secretary adjust the weeks on the agreement so I could sign it. As we waited he began to make phone calls and set up the next meetings he had. People get fired every day, so he is a busy man. There was one guy who hadn’t shown up for his hearing yet, and the woman from the management company was outside in the waiting room.
“Carlos, this is Donavan, from 32BJ. You’re supposed to be here for your hearing right now, what’s going on?” He had the phone on speaker, I don’t think it was for my entertainment, but I got to hear both sides of the conversation.
“What?” The guy said.
“You calling me now? I got terminated three months ago, in February, and now you call me? I’m done, they terminated me, you got your payment under the table, so why don’t you leave me alone?”
“Well, Carlos, it takes about three months to set up a hearing, this is a court.”
“I’m done, man.” And then he hung up. Donavan took the file and put it in the completed pile.
“Some of these guys are crazy.”
Then I heard another conversation about a guy who was afraid to go back to his building, he had a nervous breakdown because the super hated him and everybody was against him and he wanted a four-month leave of absence to “Get his head together.”
The secretary came in with the amended stipulation for me to sign. I signed and asked when I was to get the money.
“Well, this has to go back to them, and Gary Clark (the Rudin H.R. guy) has to sign and send it back over here with the check. Probably another seven days.”
Talk about being nickeled and dimed to death. Extreme prejudice. And of course they are deducting the requisite taxes.
“Let me fax this to Gary and see if he’s sign and fax it back now. Sit tight.”
I sat tight as Donavan went out to the other room to use the fax, all the while telling someone about the fellow who didn’t show up and accused him of getting his “payment under the table.” I heard him tell the story twice while he was out of the room. When he returned he called another management company, this time about two guys who had been caught using crystal meth on the job. The guy who’d sold it to them had been fired unceremoniously, but these guys had a chance as they had entered a rehab.
“And you think you’ve got problems.” He said to me. If you only knew, brother.
Eventually he had to take care of another case, as this guy had shown up. He told me I could go and would be in touch about the check. I thanked him, shook his hand, and took the elevator back downstairs.
So that’s it. I also heard a conversation he’d had with a super, and the guy wanted to get back into the building to get his “stuff.” He had stuff in several rooms there, and was concerned about it.
I’ve got some “stuff” in my locker, but nothing so important as I’d want to endure looking at the super’s fat face once again, or at the smirking alcoholic of a gnome that stands at the front desk days. The previous super used to refer to him as a “charming little creature.”
There are some books I’d found in the garbage, a hodge-podge of small tools acquired through the years, a couple of white shirts, the uniforms that belong to them anyway, pens, plastic forks and spoons, a big white towel, my $49 doorman’s shoes from DSW, and my work boots.
Those I’d like to have. They are J Shoes boots, who my friend Skateboard Andy once referred to as “sweet paratrooper boots.” I stopped wearing them because with my heel spur it hurt to do so. But strangely, my heel spur stopped hurting a week after I got canned.
I won’t miss much, it was a boring, tedious job with absolutely no chance of advancement, and though I did like some of the tenants, so far not a one has reached out to me, and believe me, quite a few of them have my number from when I used to do private jobs for them.
Donavan asked if I had anything lined up yet, and I said no, I’m going to take a little break and re-assess. “I’ll be alright.” I said. Time to do something else, what, I don’t know. But I doubt I’ll be a doorman again.
I’ve had so many different jobs and I know how to do many different things, so that’s not a problem. When the time comes, I’ll do what I must.
I know one thing; I have done more things and will continue to do more and different things that anyone on the staff of that building has ever done, things that they can only dream at.