"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Aug 21, 2012

Sir Gates and Dame Winfrey

Lady Buttercup
Is it me?  I’m so quiet; I rarely venture out, other than the dog walks (can’t afford to); I shush my dog; I always smile and speak when I meet someone, and offer help if they're struggling.

No, I’m NOT turning into one of them.  The very individual I hope NOT to become.  I’m in the as-yet unfriendliest RV park I've stayed in: the neighbors; the workers.  That sort of grumpiness develops from the top down.   The ‘absent owners’ of these RV parks care about little more than the bottom line; they are like the Landowners of Olde.  Hell, England hands out titles like lemonade; they might just as well start dubbing folks in this country, since aristocracy is adored and celebrities practically deified.  Sir Gates?  Dame Winfrey?  Better start hoarding those tea bags!

Mid-‘80’s, Sis and I, a couple of ‘Jersey girls with big hair, learned to navigate Manhattan together.  We both began with temp agencies; equally encouraged by Working Girl; now she’s on the top floor of a top firm, and me, well, I chose The Road Not Taken.  My Dad had passed away and I was living with Mom, helping her cope.  Poor woman never even wrote a check.  Hillary, who lives in a neighboring town, needed a challenge after the kids were grown, and wanted to help Mom, too.

I accepted a full-time position in a marketing firm.  The owners were lunatics; and if whoever worked there wasn’t already, they soon became infected, unless they quit.  I was already nuts so my transition was relatively painless, but still I entered and exited their world as two different women.

I worked with the masters of wit and irony; 40 hours a week I was surrounded by smart-aleks like those on Law & Order.  They gave as good as they got, and between them and my early home training, I was well prepared to become the sarcastic individual who writes today.

So Hill and I would meet at the bus stop at 6:30am for the hour-plus ride into the city, cat-napping along the way, and ultimately deposited in the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd Street and 8th Avenue.  This was before Giuliani cleaned up the city.  If we had enough time (morning traffic often turned the trip into 2 hours), we’d stop in the bagel shop, have a coffee and exchange stories of Big City Life before she’d head up to Park Ave. and I’d schlep down to 10th.

Mine were usually better; she’d be the first to admit.  Like the one about the vacant lot across the street which, when overgrown with six-foot tall weeds in the summer, became a favorite place for the Tunnel Bunnies (Lincoln Tunnel-area hookers) to take their clients.  We were on the 12th floor; from that vantage point, you could clearly see the crushed refrigerator box with the old rocking chair on top.   I can’t make this stuff up.

You could always tell when something was going on; the entire male heterosexual  population of the art department was pressed against the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.  It was embarrassing when clients would ask what they were looking at.

Hillary would just stare; she always thought she’d heard the most outrageous when sure enough, I’d come to breakfast with another.  I think my propensity for keeping my eyes on the ground whenever I walk stems from that time; walking the semi-deserted 5 or 6 blocks to the office, I’d dodge used needles, condoms, and other similarly pleasant items.  After I passed a pile of rubbish which suddenly began to move, I’d walk in the middle of the street as much as possible.  Rather get hit by a car on the way to work.   Going in extra early one morning, I waited at the light next to a topless Bunnie in hotpants.  Just a tad uncomfortable, I never went in that early again.

In the 90's, our company contributed to the British Invasion.  They'd become associated with a top firm in London, and a couple of their brightest came over to enlighten the rest of us.  Amazing how people assume a British accent equals intelligence.  

But once the Russians started coming in, then we really had some fun.  They were so hard working, I used to joke that "This is not slave labor," an expression Boris in particular often repeated thereafter.

I lasted 8 years with that company, which has since declared bankruptcy, but the stories I could tell!  I’m sure I’m better suited for Eastern temperaments, but I prefer the beauty and wild of the West.  Which is why I keep telling people I live alone and travel often enough so as NOT to rub everyone the wrong way.

Vive la Revolution!

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