Thursday, December 22, 2005
All right, the transit strike is officially over. Now what?
It looks like the folks that have to get here on Christmas Day can use the trains, as opposed to roller blades and hang gliders.
And I can enjoy the sites in New York during the holidays without having to walk through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to see them.
I know this strike crippled the city and I honestly think this was not the best path for the union to take, but by the same token they were fighting for some important issues and the MTA, as I've mentioned before, needs a complete overhaul.
I heard some reporters from the Village Voice on the radio today and they pretty much said this privately run government agency (huh?) is the crony capital of New York, the place where the well-connected install their slow-witted cousins and then run like hell.
We've got Mike "The Working Class Billionaire" Bloomberg and George "Thinks He's Presidential" Pataki talking tough. And that right wing rag of newpaper the New York Post was doing its best to rile up anti-union sentiment, running a photo of their front page today with the transit union president behind bars. Thanks, Rupert. Why don't you go hug the third rail now?
Sorry About That, Comrade
I've been working from home since the strike began and while it felt a little strange, I was getting the hang of it. I was so lucky that I didn't have to walk for hours in the freezing cold like so many others had to do.
It was going fairly well until today when I couldn't contact my boss. I sent him e-mails, I called him at home and at work, and I even sent him a story. Nothing.
Finally I call another editor and find out that my boss is off until Tuesday and no one thought to tell me. Okay, I think I can handle that.
I remember a Soviet cosmonaut years ago who stayed up in space way beyond his scheduled time because the Iron Curtain was coming down and no one remembered to bring the poor bugger back to earth.
I think I know how he felt.
I hate to be paranoid, but I've developed a real talent for it. Plus I've only been at this place a few months and already I'm taking several days off next week because I lose 'em if I don't use 'em. I'm concerned it's going to be "Rob, who?" when I finally do get back the office.
While this is going on, the new basement windows that I had wanted installed finally arrived and two guys came over to put them in. The old windows were falling apart and we were leaking heat out of the house something fierce.
Everything seemed to be going okay until one of the men came in the house and said rather nonchalantly "do you know you have a rat in the basement?" the way some people ask "do you know the way to San Jose?"
There Arose Such A Clatter
Let me explain. We're not dirty people, honestly. It's just this is an old house, we've got a ton of crap in the basement that needs to be tossed out and we don't have the vast number of cats around here that we used to. (See The Cat's Pajamas).
I thought we had mice so I put some poison down there a few weeks ago and after it stopped disappearing I figured I bumped off them all off. Now I find it ain't mice and they ain't dead.
We've got company coming over here on Christmas Day--welcomed company that is, unlike these furry bastards downstairs. But it's always like this, some catastrophe happens before a major holiday or vacation, the absolute worst time for this stuff to hit the fan. I'm actually used to it by now.
I hauled my butt to the local hardware store and stocked up on rat traps and poison. The owner took one look at my purchases and said "good hunting" like I was going after lions in Tanzania. I think I'd prefer lions to rats. They're cleaner and it's much tougher for them to hide in the basement.
My dad's home healthcare aid told me rats love peanut butter so I stopped at the corner deli to pick up a jar of this slop, something I haven't done since grammar school.
I was actually reaching for the low fat brand of peanut butter when it occurred to me that I really wasn't concerned about the rats' cholesterol level.
If anything I'd like to see them all keel over from heart failure. Save me a lot of time, money and trouble. I ditched the healthy stuff and reached for some cheap ass brand I never heard of. These little dirt bags don't deserve Skippy.
You know, we've made so many incredible advances in technology over the years, it's kind of amazing that the old school rat trap hasn't changed much. It's still a crude killing machine that can do a number on your fingers if you're not careful.
So How's This Thing Work?
I figured by this time there would be ditigal innards, laser beams and all sorts of funky stuff, but no, this is the same medieval nasty spring device that showed up to inflict all sorts of pain in the old Three Stooges shorts.
So I'm in my basement with these white Mickey Mouse work gloves on because the rats won't even approach the trap if the get a whiff of humanity.
I'm putting peanut butter on cotton balls and I hear myself singing this godawful holiday ditty "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" by a Brenda Lee, a howling, rabid, cross-eyed dog of a song if ever there was one.
I think I heard it on a car radio as I came back from the hardware store and it took root in my memory cells, like all truly hideous songs do. Thank God it wasn't "Mamasita, Donde Esta Santa Claus" or I would have put my face in the rat trap and hit the switch. (Gee, I wish I hadn't mentioned that song...)
It was a kind of strange scene down there in the basement, with me planning the violent death of one of God's creatures while singing a Christmas tune. I think there was a similar scene in "It's A Wonderful Life" but it got edited out.
The basement has been mined. In the next two days I have to help my sister pick up a Christmas tree, decorations, the food, dessert, and soda for the Christmas dinner, entertain a herd of friends and relatives and pray I still have a job when it's all over.
And, as Maxwell Smart used to say, loving it.
All right now, boys and girls, now put on your white gloves, grab some peanut butter and sing along with me: "Rockin' around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop..."