Legion, a group of miserable demons, seemed to possess all of New York City this week. Heat brings them out of us and the invisible critters jump from soul to soul.
Keeping my cool with a bottle of frozen Poland Springs, I strategically performed all my duties as a messenger during the heat wave. I zigzagged between skyscrapers, making sure to stay in the shade of the buildings. Many of the doctors offices have water coolers in the waiting room. I re-filled my bombshell shaped water bottle numerous times. An elderly man in Suite 8U of the medical center on 30th Street and 1st Avenue noted: “You must save a lot of money that way,” as I shamelessly filled the nearly half-gallon size bottle.
“Hell, with this crappy job, if I had to buy water, that would beat the purpose of coming to work,” I retorted. The old Jew did not laugh, or perhaps he did not get my dry humor, but the receptionist burst into laughter as I went on to note, “Water cost more than gas in this town, sunny,” on my way out the door.
Another co-worker has started to bum cigarettes from me. He makes four or five– I try not to count. I just hand them out, hoping that the black men at work don’t take their Travon Martin frustrations out on me.
I was surprised when “Franchise”, as he is called by the brothers at work, asked for one of my American Spirits. I didn’t mind giving Franchise a smoke. He’s one of the veterans at the job– having been a messenger in NY for nearly a decade now– he knows every thing there is to know about the job. I ran into him on my route last winter. He was standing outside of the Barnes and Noble store at Union Square. I had mistakenly delivered a box there myself, earlier that day, and had returned to retrieve it. I asked Franchise to watch my handcart for a minute while I went inside the busy store. It took me nearly a half hour to retrieve the lost box, and when I had returned to my cart, Franchise was still there guarding it.
Before he had asked for the smoke he inquired as to how I was tolerating the heat.I mentioned that I had the best tasting glass of ice water I had ever had on Thursday. “Sean Smith, the bartender at the Celtic Tiger, gave it to me,” I said. “I don’t know what made it taste so dandy, perhaps it was the slight taste of lime on the glass or those wonderful ice cubes that only bars can get, but that water was so good.”
“Oh, that’s nothing,” Franchise said, rubbing his head that was still slightly bald from some sort of fungus that caused him to lose most of has hair early this spring. His scalp seemed to be healing and a wide smile covered his face, “This girl at a bar I once delivered paychecks to always gave me a shot of Jack on Friday– now that shit was good.” Franchise explained.
He said “Thank you kind sir,” as I handed him what are called “spirits” by others who ask.