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Archive for March, 2015

Doris, a recipient of direct deposit, was fit to be tied Friday morning. Upon calling into her bank in the wee hours of the morning, just after having finished what must have been less than a shot or two of rum in a big bottle that was supposed to last all week, my friend appeared haggard, angry and ready to “bust some ass”. I said good morning to her and that’s when it all came flying out at me, as if I were some kind of therapist, just because I’m white.

“That son of a bitch!” was all she said. I didn’t even have to ask. I feared what the amount of my own paycheck might be. Following the loss of a major contract for one of our paycheck companies, the general manager “had to” cut the rate of pay for on-demand jobs. On Demand is a side of the business that Doris works like a hooker on 42nd Street. It is a service of the delivery industry that offers the picking up a package from one New York City address and delivering it to another, all within a time frame of an hour or so. Before there was e-mail, the city was filled with thousands upon thousands of messengers on bikes who did this type of service. Following September 11th, and new screenings that were put into effect along with mankind’s obsession with digital media, the job became harder and harder. One cannot chain up a bike as easily and these screenings often take upwards of twenty minutes or so. Unlike with paychecks, where couriers deliver to a certain NYC neighborhood, to the same customers on the same day of every week, on demand is a whole new game—there is always two new faces that need ass kissings, unlike with paychecks where our customers already know us. On Demand is a bitch, but Doris, being a veteran of the place, has clout. She worked closely with the dispatcher and weeded out on demand jobs that were within walking distance of the warehouse, and those jobs that tended to pay more, for whatever reason. Some on demand jobs offer just $3.00 a delivery, while others pay upwards of $20. It seemed the only logical explanation was some clients had to pay more than others. No one ever understood the reasoning behind these rates, but in any case, couriers were no longer going to receive those big jobs that Doris once hogged all for herself. 

In addition to her monopoly on On- Demand, Doris has a paycheck route—an area within a ten block radius of the warehouse. Having done this job for so long, she knows how to sneak inside of NYC buildings, often using freight entrances, long before the massive 9 am rush. The black woman with bleached blonde hair has been a foot messenger for nearly a decade now. Every doorman along her route knows her well. Prior to yesterday, she was often back at the warehouse by 11:00 am, when most couriers are just getting started on their routes, further away from the area that Doris has on lock down. She was ready to take on more on-demand jobs by 11:00, which at one time, paid upwards of $15 a pop. Now Steve cut the rate and Doris was fit to be tied.

“The mother fucker put me deeper and deeper down in the hole, chop, chop, cut, cut, here and there, saving every damned dime for himself just so he can lose it on those fucking horses. I don’t know what this Walmart world is coming to. I think one day, man is going to be gone and the fucking dinosaurs are going to make a comeback” she said to me on her way out of the job at 8 am, sharply.

Often I leave with her and we smoke cigarettes together on our way to Seventh Avenue. My paycheck route is that way, just East of Doris’s. I was running late Friday morning. I had a delivery due at 7:30 am at a charity that pays a premium rate to have their check delivered by 7:30 am, but the company I work for, a non-charity, does not pay me the on demand rate for it. A mere dollar fifty is all I make. It typically comes every other Thursday, but a correction came in yesterday, or perhaps it was a bonus check that came, so I had to skip my ass on over to 11th Avenue and 26th Street just after I had seen that terrible look upon Doris’s face that I know all so well.

I still hadn’t seen Steve to get my own check. I didn’t have time to walk with Doris, knowing she likes to get a head start on the snooty people who hog elevator space along her route. I could tell she needed to get out of there before she went off on Steve’s ass.

“I don’t know how you do what you do, Doris,” I said, as she headed out the door with a Newport hanging from her lips, that despite the years and all that bad weather are still as pretty as a rose. I noticed her hair has already started to grow back in; those black roots are in demand of another bleaching. She bleached and shaved it just last week. She gave herself another make-over after suffering from a terrible cold and missing a few days of work due to a slight chill she caught back in February.

“My daughter cut my hair and cut out that cold right out of me. It feels so good,” she said the day before she bleached it again. I guess summer is coming. I wondered why she hadn’t bleached or cut it all winter, but there they were, those black roots on that blonde head again. Her hair is so short, shaved almost, yet she keeps it blonde, constantly.

“I pray a lot,” Doris remarked after I noted that I did not know how she does what she does. She held her much younger looking face and head slightly higher and smiled at me with her bad teeth. She had at least thirty pounds of paychecks hanging from her back in a backpack, and other white envelopes were stuffed in a plastic bag that she held in the hand that wasn’t going to hold the Newport Doris was just about to smoke.

Already, I knew, she had a plan to make more money somehow in the highly competitive messenger industry.

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James rents a room near Times Square. He shares space with what James describes as “A pretty Black girl with a slamin’ body. She sits with me on my bed in her nightgown, my God! I don’t know what to say to her, so I sent her a text thanking her. She responded, ‘You’re welcome’ and she came and sat back down on my bed and we watched a movie together.”

“What about your girlfriend?” I asked. I already knew James, my co-worker, has a girlfriend who he loves dearly, but had to move out from. “I couldn’t sand all her kids,” he explained. I laughed, realizing there is little difference between gay and straight people. I’m not out at work, but who needs to be? Especially since we all live the same dramas with different characters.

I love chatting with James at work. We share the same space in the morning. James once told African Americans at work not to work next to him because the place to his right was mine, and only Mike Day, a former heroin addict could work on his left. “We have a nice little mixed community over here. We even got white people. Don’t bring your shit over here. You’ve been sorting your paychecks in that same spot for five years now.” That was when I wanted to be friends with James. I make little conversation with others in the morning before I head out on my route. I’m not sure if it’s safe to be out at work and who really wants to be known as the fag anyway?

James is a little older that I am and has hit fifty already. His teeth are not the best but he has not a single gray hair on his head. We often laugh at our own bad teeth and how they got that way. The pretty black guys with perfect teeth don’t get our humor and must wonder why we hit it off so well. “I was eating a peanut one time and it went down a hole I have in my tooth. It hurt like hell. Thought I’d die for a minute, but I popped it out with my tongue and chewed it on the other side. The shit was good.” James told me as he imitated chomping on a peanut in his mouth. I laughed like hell.

Not knowing what advice to give to my friend James in regards to his lust for his roommate, I simply shared a story:

“When I was in the Army, I had a Black section chief,” I said to James. Mike Day looked up from a stack of checks he was sorting and peered at me over a pair of glasses from the Dollar Store and waited to hear what I had to say about my Black boss. “You’ve done everything,” James reminded me. “You was in the Army…”

“We were on a field training exercise in the woods of Germany. I hadn’t had a bath in weeks. Sgt. Grier somehow met this German chick who lived near to where we were camping. He asked me if I wanted to come with him over to her house. Hell, I needed a bath and agreed. When we got there, it turned out, they wanted me in a threesome.”

Mike Day, the old seventy-something ex-junkie blinked and pondered the meaning of why I told James that story.

“Oh, hell. I’ve had orgies,” James insisted. “Two men with one women, three woman two men; whole gangs of us just fuckin’.”

“I’ve never done anything like that,” Mike Day said.

“I couldn’t do it with them,” I explained. “I was still a virgin and didn’t want my first time to be like that. But I’ve certainly made up for lost time. It’s not the same when you are old. It’s like you’ve done everything and nothing is a thrill. It’s sometimes best to just sit next to someone on a bed.”

 “I don’t know,” James said, breaking into my story, “She gets along with my girlfriend. They are real close and stuff…”

“They’ll set you up,” I insisted. “Bitches are like that, they’ll set you up, be careful, James.”

Mike Day shook his head.

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An obese man driving an electric wheelchair in eight inches of melting snow got stuck on Delancey Street last Friday. Two girls were trying to push the man over the icy curb, but the wheelchair seemed more designed for zipping down polished aisles of Walmart, not for joyriding along slick city sidewalks.

I was carrying a rather light load of paychecks and was headed for a bar called The Delancey located at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. I knew the bar was closed. I typically slide the business’s checks under a steel door as I head East on the busy stretch of sidewalk. I felt obligated to lend the girls a hand pushing the man. Cars turn at the busy intersection, exiting the bridge and it seemed inevitable the man in the wheelchair would be struck by a vehicle, or worse yet, the girls would be crippled as well.

The fat man jiggled a joystick on the arm of the wheelchair and seemed to enjoy having such pretty princesses fuss over him. I shoved the check I was carrying in a newspaper boy bag strapped over my right shoulder. As I bent over to lift the foot of the chair, the man insisted that he no longer needed help and instead, jiggled the little black control knob and backed further onto the Street. He spun slowly to a corner where he insisted he could make it alone.

The girls seemed somewhat upset that the man would not allow me to help and must have wondered if he really needed assistance. The three of us watched in delight as his wheels spun in a pile of melting slush in the heart of oncoming traffic. Before I could shout, “I hope your fat ass sits there all day”, he got up, walked behind his chair, and pushed it up the embankment. His fat ass and that chair moved as quickly as the cold breeze blowing off the East River and across our cold little fingers. He didn’t glance back to thank any of us skinny bitches who should have done the New York thing and not what we thought was the right thing.

There are so many perverts in this town. Even men in wheelchairs don’t want queens carrying bags bending over at their crotch, even if it is to lift them a little. I felt bad for cock blocking the seedy bastard.

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