I missed yesterday’s Blog a day assignment because I had to work. I told myself I would do it when I got home, after 5pm. That didn’t happen.
I worked as a porter, or maintenance man in a building on the Lower East side, my friend Tommy’s building. That’s how I got the job, and there’s a previous blog post about it if you are interested. Just look at my blog roll.
I showed up at a quarter to 8am, ready to work. I wore chinos and a New York Replacement parts T-shirt I got from my previous job. When I got to the building the other porter was cleaning the front door, I’d met him before but he didn’t remember me. His name is Freddy, and he’s from Ecuador. I told him I was supposed to work, and he took me downstairs to the locker room and handed me a uniform: dark blue workpants and a powder blue Polo shirt with the building address on it. Instead of a name it just said: “relief,” I’m the new relief man, which means I work when someone is sick or on vacation. A guy is taking vacation next week and yesterday was a sort of training day.
I wondered how he knew what size I was, and thought maybe the super, Segundo, had told him. I found out I was wrong when I went into the locker room to change and found out the pants were a size 34 waist. I’d told Segundo I wore a 38. I put the shirt on, and though a little tight; it would work.
Segundo came down and when informed of my dilemma rummaged through the other spare uniforms till he found a size 38 pants. The last time I was a 34 was about 14 years ago when I lost 115 pounds in less than a year. But that’s another story.
When I was ready Segundo called Freddy down on his little two-way radiophone thing, one of those things people used to have instead of cellphones that would annoy the shit out of me when they used them in public.
“Freddy, I want you to show Xavier here what to do on the day shift. Show him everything and make him work. He’s here to work and not just follow you around and watch you.”
This was Freddy’s lucky day, he was going to have someone to lord over and do most of the work.
Freddy took me to the lobby where I commenced to wash the glass doors, and the very first tenant to come down and through the door is my friend Tommy and his two kids, Skylar and Phoenix.
The deal was that we were supposed to act like we don’t know each other, and I was worried the kids might recognize me and say something, but they didn’t; they were too focused on going to the park rather than pay any attention to Hispanic men cleaning the doors. Tommy gave me a sidelong glance and muttered a “good morning” to Freddy and me. We said good morning back.
Then we went up to the roof to open the doors to the roof. This building, which is 12 stories high and has almost 200 units, has a roof deck. The deck has four teak tables and each table has three teak chairs. There is also a bunch of plastic folding chairs to accommodate overflow.
“OK, when you come up here every morning, make sure each table has three chairs.” Some had four and the others had only two, so we shuffled the chairs to their proper places. I looked out across to Brooklyn, to see if I could see my house, but I couldn’t. I did see Woodhull hospital, which is just down the block from my house; so I had a reference point.
Then we buffed some floors, the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd. I’ve done this before so it was easy.
Freddy then showed me how to do the garbage, and this was what I was looking forward to. Each floor has a compactor room with a chute, an in this room are the recycling bins. I forgot to buy the Times on Saturday, and I was bereft of a crossword this week. Here was my chance to score one. I only buy the Times on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; those are the only puzzles worth doing. I thought I might pick up the Sunday magazine as well; I haven’t done one of those since I got fired from 144. Sunday isn’t too hard, but it is long and sometimes tricky like the Thursday ones.
Freddy showed me how to consolidate the bags so they weren’t too heavy, and how to open the side door on the second elevator with the key. Only one elevator has two doors, and one opens to the floor landing proper and the other to the compactor room. We gathered up bags and left them on alternating floors for pick up later.
After lunch we brought down bags, and Freddy told me he was leaving at 4, since he starts at 7am. That’s when I would have the opportunity to find the crosswords.
I was asked to sweep and mop the playroom, the storage room, and the bike room.
“Make sure you sweep up the dead water bugs, the tenants don’t like them.”
This one was on the wall
I did all this, and I marveled at all the amenities this building had. In addition to a playroom for the kids, (about 2,000 square feet) there is a gym and a laundry. There is also a bin to put used clothing in for Housingworks, and a heavy-duty paper shredder. Of course this building is a co-op and the board votes on all of this things.
Before Freddy left he gave me my final instructions: Sweep down all the stairwells, (there are three, A, B, and C) double check the compactor rooms for any overflow, and it should be 5pm by the time I would be done.
As I swept down the stairs, I stared a competition, which stairwell would yield the biggest dust bunny? Stairwell C won:
I also found the Saturday Arts section I missed, and as a bonus found the Sunday Magazine. My crossword fix was taken care of.
At 4:47 Segundo called on the annoying radiophone.
“I’m on the third floor of stairwell B, I’ll be done in a couple of minutes.”
“Come downstairs NOW! We’re done for the day.”
I gathered up my accumulated dust in my dustpan and went downstairs.
I caught an Ave. A bus to Delancey Street and sat down for the first time since lunch. Every bone in my body hurt, and I never thought my hands would hurt wielding a mop or a broom, but they did. I’m getting too old for this shit.
I look forward when you’re tired from smiling all day signing your books and meeting your fans.