Several customers along my paycheck route have tried to compliment me, stating that I look like John Malkovich.”
“That dude is bald,” I replied to Dolly, a woman who works at a real estate management company that receives more than 60 thick envelopes every week. The firm gave me another $50 check made out to “cash” again this Christmas. I’d rather be called Cash than John. Dolly was the first to tell me I look like Malkovich—several years ago when I started this gig, back when I made Dolly sign every line on my paper manifest that belonged to New Bedford. It was only after I received my second $50 tip from New Bedford last Christmas that I decided Dolly had only to sign once, and not twenty or so times each week. I now make a hand-written notation in one of the fifty or so New Bedford spreadsheet boxes, indicating exactly how many paychecks I delivered on a specific day and tell her, just sign there and stop reading the names of my famous clients on the other pages of the manifest where New Bedford appeared. I once put little ‘x’s next to where she needed to sign, a task that took up too much time each morning when I went through my batches of several hundred checks. “Oh look, the Spanish Theater on 27th Street. I’ve been there,” she claimed, “and oh, there is Russell Simmons and Donald Trump. Geeze!” Dolly exclaimed handing me back my papers.
I’m up in New Bedford almost every day, delivering three or so more paychecks that Dolly did not submit with her big batch that comes on Wednesday. Although I was first taken back by Dolly’s John Malkovich reference, I realized she was a big fan, perhaps of me as well. The short Latina woman is simply adorable, and despite our almost daily interaction, she maintains a certain professionalism between us that enables me to subliminally say to her, “Hurry up and sign my paper missy. I got a million more stops to make today.”
Both Christmas and New Year’s Day fell on Thursday in 2014. Checks normally delivered on Thursday went out on Wednesday. Dolly’s big batch came on Tuesday; thank heavenly angels that sing! I carried nearly 200 paper checks on New Year’s Eve and had more than 80 individual stops to make. If it were a Dolly/ John Malkovich day, I never would have finished on time.
One of the last stops on my thick paper manifest that windy Christmas Eve was on Madison Street. Having never been on Madison Street, and having made the mistake of attempting to deliver this new package in my batch to 176 Madison Avenue earlier that morning and wasting nearly a half hour to do so, I found myself walking up to the door of 176 Madison Street at 4:30 pm. I had just delivered to my playwright friend, Karimah on Henry Street and had to ask her where Madison Street was. She pointed over her shoulder through a window next to her desk where I could see massive housing complexes. “I can take you up through the church and let you out that door– a short cut,” she promised.” I knew that if I took Karimah up on her offer, we’d spend a half hour discussing her most recent work “Accept the Except” which I saw a few weeks ago.
Feeling like Santa in a rush, but with no Rudolph, I was glad that everyone who needed their paycheck to go Christmas shopping had what they needed at least one hour before Macy’s closed. I took a deep breath of pride, relieved to have made it to most of my customers before 5:00. Despite my desperate need to be discovered by an actor or by someone of importance like Karimah, I ran from the New Federal Theatre and made my way to Madison Street where my last delivery of the day was. The envelope was addressed to a tax firm.
Although a window on the second floor of 176 Madison Street promised Rapid Refunds, the place appeared dark and there was no door leading to the tax office window on the second floor. The place reminded me of an East Village clairvoyant storefront that promises everything from crystal healings to chackra kahn adjusting. One Seventy Six is a residential building. I asked two Latin men how one would gain access to that tax office.
“Oh, ya have ta go through the barber shop, papi. It’s in the back, but they are closed.”
“Do you think someone at the barber shop will sign for this package?”
I quickly entered the shop where a short, but big dick swinging rican was busy doing line-ups and such on the head of some fat chino who looked like he thought he was friends with Jay Z. How did I know such things about people I’ve never spoken to? I don’t know, I just do. It’s like that when you look famous.
“Hello. I have a delivery for the tax firm. Would it be possible to leave it with you?” I asked, never again wanting to come to this little hidden ghetto of the Lower East Side, having to carry my little dolly down a flight of cement stairs.
The sexy motha fucka grabbed the check in the same hand that was holding clippers. “Oh, sure. It’s addressed to Freddie. Hey do you want a haircut? We really do a good job here, and your shit is all jacked up. He looks like that dude from the Fifth Element.” Everyone in the shop laughed. So did the fat guy with his double chin buried in a hairy chest that I should not have had to look at on Christmas Eve. It was so cold and why wasn’t he wearing one of those plastic bibs? The barber was right, though. My hair must have been all matted down at that point and not sticking up like Bart Simpson’s like it does in the morning before I put up the hood on my hoodie.
“I cut it myself.” I bragged. “I just cut off the greys every week. I really don’t care what I look like anymore. When I was your age, it was important. Now it’s not.” I stated while turning to leave the place. I wanted to show him the North Face tag on my ghetto looking coat.
“Hey, wait a minute. You look just like that actor dude..”
“John Malkovich?” I asked.
“Now that’s one ugly mother fucker,” I said. “Maybe I could get a job as his stunt double or something.”
“That’d work. Do car crashes and shit.”