Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Days of Speed and Slow Time Mondays

Days started when I was forced to start them, with a noisy interruption to my dreamed dreams. Beds never felt comfortable enough except when alarms went off and life was constantly held hostage to mass transit. Mornings were routine. Head into the sink, hair first, then face. Bristles tickled my gums and with a quick rinse I was on the pavement. Tan work boots left, right, left, right for three blocks and into the underground with Metrocard handy and through the turnstile. Down the steps to the express platform. The same people, the same faces. That same girl with the hot body reading some book. Standing against a column, her hair down to her shoulders, whisked past her face as the 4 or 5 would plow into the station. A quick brush back with her gentle hands and she finds a seat near many of the hundreds of workers whose faces are harsh and as uninterested in starting another day as I. They sip coffee cups and close their eyes just tight enough to hold onto those last few precious moments of sleep before they have to force themselves up off the train and into another day. Up the steps and back to the pavement. The alomat hoist can be heard echoing through the tranquil dawn. Shepherded into a car like livestock with 10 to 15 guys whose only goal in life was not to end up here like their fathers and uncles. The door slams down and only a few tiny holes remind you of a world outside. Days of speed and slow time Mondays isn’t just a few words in a great song. It’s nearly a promise but most definitely a reminder at 21; life is passing you by and being bored anymore isn’t an excuse... its a disease.

I arrive on the floor by 7:15. The broom and shovel await my dry as chalk hands. The noise of busy-ness erupts with skill saws and screw guns blasting into sheetrock boards. Everyday is the same. Where I busted my ass cleaning up yesterday, is destroyed within seconds. Its a job hard pressed to find motivation. Then you’re told that checks are going to be late. It doesn’t matter, because you’re stuck here, but you still complain all the same. The south side of the floor, the 44th floor, is trashed. I’m distracted by the city beneath me. New York City. Buildings belching from the pavement nearly 50 stories below. Downtown. A gaping hole in the skyline where something is missing and you know exactly where it should be. I sweep. Push. Push. Push. A pile of sawdust is worse than asbestos they say. Electricians tut their tongues and are unimpressed at the lack of green dust compound being used. For a pile like this I feel like saying. A quick look at the phone - 7:30. 9 o’clock coffee is still a ways off. The screeching of screw guns pierce my ear drums like its a board of sheetrock. Again and again, boards fly up and are screwed in. Unused cuts begin to pile up and rolling over a yellow ½ yard container struggles to impress me any further. Cut, snap, bang into the container with relative routine. Cut, snap, bang. Cut, snap, bang. Don’t think, just do. Don’t think, just do. Don’t think, just collect a check.

The floor’s a mess. My foreman will be through the floor soon. Hurricane like force and speed, he finds issues. “... this should’ve been done yesterday.” He’s probably right, but yesterday I didn’t have time. It doesn’t matter. He’s seen it and it’s a strike against me. No such thing as a perfect floor. Floors are never done, it just means you’re not looking hard enough. And, if you’re still satisfied, give it a few minutes. He finds a good few issues on my floor. I knew what they were beforehand but foremen don’t want to hear that you’re working your way round, they want it done before it even fucking happened. I’ll be off this job soon. In construction, all jobs come to an end... for some, rather sooner than others. I probably talk back to much. I’ve failed my entire life to just go with the flow. To shut my mouth and just “collect the check.” In a perfect world, it might be considered a good thing. Someone with half a brain making decisions on his own. Not bothering the boss with silly questions and just going along with the answers given. Not here. Here, I’m rogue. Here, I am not allowing the boss to boss me. He’s the boss. There are many like him, but this one is mine. No thinking, just doing. No thinking, just doing. No thinking... “call the office.”

Tomorrow I could be working or tomorrow I could be off. I’m at the mercy of the office. It’s as helpless as helpless gets. Your fate is never in your own hands. Nearly 7 years later I’m older. Maybe wiser to the system, but still not warm to it. In 7 years, I’ve worked all over this city. The power tie, money hungry offices of Wall St. and the causal campuses of Columbia University. Hanging off the roof of midtown and wishing I could keep this view for hours. Push broom and shovel. Ear blasting roars from tools and their instruments. I feel old. I ache. New kids come in and I cringe at what they say and what they do. They’re dumb. I know they are. It doesn’t matter, they don’t think, they just do. 7 years later and I’m old. I’m old and I ache and bitterness swirls like a chip inserted into my veins. 7 years later. Days of speed in a blur. Slow time Mondays - a promise.   


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