Skip to content

All Apologies

Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosey

October 5, 2003

I‘ve followed the San Francisco Giants for the better part of 38 years and now, as they make their way into the playoffs, I find myself living in Brooklyn without television reception.

The previous sentence captures large parts of my life with oddly appropriate perspective. It doesn’t make much difference in the long haul. October will pass, the Giants will do whatever it is they are going to do, and someone else will use our third row seats at Pacific Bell Park. This Zen-like approach holds value for many areas of life, sitting atop a hill under cloudless skies after all has transpired. But it doesn’t come close to solving the question of day to day.

I still love the trains. Maybe it’s the relative novelty coming from California or perhaps some deeper emotional connection. The subway offers something that can be found in neither home nor business. It is a chance to observe and mix with others as they plow through their daily shit, taking their best stab. It affords the opportunity to get out of the house and experience movement, beyond one’s solitary daily run, trek to work or individual errands. And unlike office, if you find yourself unable to tolerate present company, you can simply switch. You don’t even have to abandon the experience; just move to another car.

I wonder if they will lose novelty if I stay in New York, or as the winter comes. Perhaps I’ll become jaded, and fellow riders will blend into one indistinguishable mass. But for now they are holding steady.

***

After two weeks on the job, it’s back to the subways as my chief source of day-killing. My supervisor didn’t accept my resignation or multiple apologies particularly well. I’m obviously no Einstein, having required this time to determine that working for free in a high-tension environment holds little reward. If I was doing it for column-fodder, this prose is going to have to turn around dramatically in the next few sentences, and I don’t sense that coming.

In the end it was another experience, which always sounds good sitting in a bar after a shot or two. People hang on to their less than enviable life tasks with great pride in bars, particularly as they get older. I suppose I underplay mine, but when I think about it I did clean toilets in a fraternity house for a while. This alone should have been reason not to accept the latest job, but my mind isn’t always firing on all synapses out here. A wealth of stagnation in recent years has left me feeling like I owe somebody something. But I’m still figuring out who and what.

New York, as a friend once pointed out, is a great place to seek anonymity. I don’t know if I’m seeking it, but at times it has found me. People still ask who you are and what you do out here, but seem less inclined to persist if your response is vague. I’ve become king of the initially vague response. It’s getting more concise and confident with time. As pretentious as it sounds, I think I’m approaching certainty in my uncertainty and home in my lost-ness.

***

I seem to attract a fringe element, wherever I go. I don’t know if it’s some sedate non-threatening aspect of my personality, or a connection with my poorly disguised, tenuous reality-grip, but these folks always track me down. I may have fantasized briefly about sharing tabouli with Iggy in the Village or crepes with Nicole uptown, but it didn’t take long for reality to sink in.

My occasional pal Kelly, from the Fall, emails to tell me he has a job lead for me. A famous filmmaker friend of his needs me to write for him and there’s a chance we’ll be hooking up with the Dalai Llama, because this cat knows him. I wonder greedily why it isn’t the Llama himself who’s seeking my writing skills, but shift my concerns to the fact that Kelly has fired off two blank emails before this one and cc’d all three to himself. The opportunity fades and the Llama leaves town, but later in the week I receive another lead concerning work on an upstate film crew, complete with a contact. I call the woman and fax in a resume, but Kelly later writes that “any frickin’ mo can fax a goddamn resume” and says he’ll take me to the production office.

The offices are dingy and the crew young. It’s a Paul Reisner shoot with Peter Falk, but they’re obviously cutting corners. Kelly wanders in and says something under his breath about his rate card. Then his voice picks up. “Hey – heard something about non-union help needed. Grips.” He extends his arm and points a finger at me. “Your man,” he says to the girl behind the desk who regards me with some concern. “Hire.”

I talk for a minute in my sanest tone to a kid who is assistant to the Key Grip. He says he’ll get back to me if they need someone. I’m not even sure what a grip does, but Kelly later explains that all I have to remember is “righty-tighty” and “lefty-loosey.” I figure there must be more to it than this, but as I watch him check his time card on the train home, I settle on not worrying about it.

***

Autumn has skipped New York for the moment and we’ve fallen into something that tastes a bit like winter. There’s a distinct chill, and I am sending home for what warm clothes I have. I’ll need them if I plan on continuing to test the elements.

2003 Rick Monaco All Rights

Print Friendly