Printing up Resumes

by

07/26/2004

55 w 53rd st ny 10019

Neighborhood: Midtown

Midtown is the part that nobody loves, that nobody thinks of as home. 

The bars have no character and the delis are as uniform as cartoon nurses. If there is an all-night bodega, it must be a joyless one. (I like all-night bodegas. They are an unfailing source of joy and surprise to me. I can spend half-hours marvelling drunkenly, blissfully, that a store so small and cramped offers both the Jif and Skippy peanut butter brands, and at 5:30 a.m. at that.)

I work in midtown, at one of those a-monkey-could-do-it jobs that I tell myself will one day look very impressive in 11-point Garamond on high-quality resume paper. One day, my new co-worker Glen and I decided to go out to lunch. Usually we monkey-workers eat lunch alone, at our desks, quiet and sullen. But it was fall outside, the first cold day, and the warm hum of the office proved intolerably deadening.

Then too, I didn’t have any friends yet at work. Maybe Glen would be my friend. He seemed funny, alert, perpetually surprised by life. Maybe, now and then after work, we could sometimes go to a characterless bar and sip Stella Artois and “unwind.” That might be nice, now and then.

We walked down and over to Hell’s Kitchen and stopped in a tiny, long restaurant that served sandwiches on French bread. Brie-and-turkey-and-cranberry. Hummus-and-tomato-and-olive. Chicken-and-pesto. Oh, such enticing, special lunches, and oh, so very few blocks fromt the part of New York that nobody loves. The day was beautiful and in the restaurant, Chopin’s Nocturnes were playing.

We bought sandwiches and couldn’t eat them. Greg had had a root canal in a molar the day before, and the crusty French bread was too hard to chew. I had chipped off a front tooth two weeks earlier, and every bite caused the chipped tooth to wiggle disturbingly. We sat glumly. We paid.  We didn’t find the coincidence of mutual dental agony funny, at all.

On the way back to work, a pigeon flapped by, one wing brushing against my head. I jumped and squeaked. Glen laughed. “Don’t they look like fish to you?” he asked.

“Pigeons? Look like fish?”

“Yes,” he said. “They look like big, grey fish with wings.”

This could be fun. This could save our dismal lunch. “Maybe they evolved from the fish, crawled up out of the water and flew away,” I suggested.

Glen said nothing for a little while, then burst out, “One day I’ll catch one when it flies by. Just reach out and grab it with my hands.”

“And bite its head off?” I don’t know why I felt this was the natural progression of Glen’s thought. Maybe I was still hungry. In any case I was wrong–he looked horrified. 

“No, and let it go, of course. I just want to know what they feel like, to hold.” He looked at me as if I actually HAD just bitten the head off of a pigeon and still had blood smearing my top lip and caking in the cracks between my teeth.

We went back to the building in silence. Glen took the elevator to 36; I stayed on to 41. Our desks are on different floors. We’re friendly. We don’t really have that much in common. Sometimes, we stop in the hall, take a few minutes to chat or rant about the mundanity of our work or the officiousness of our managers. 

Most often, we talk about other jobs we’re thinking of applying for, in other parts of the city. 

I’ve gotten as far as printing up resumes.

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