Monday, July 09, 2007

Squeeze Play

I saw this little Hispanic boy on the 6 train the other week and I can't get him out of my mind.

He was sitting between his parents and they were playing this game where the mom and dad would lean in on him at the same time and pretend to crush him.

Each time they did it, he would laugh so loudly you could hear him throughout the entire car. And then they'd do it again.

As I watched this little bit of family entertainment, I had this feeling of sadness. At first I thought it was regret at not having children of my own.

But while there is some of that going on, I think the truth is that I envied the kid. My parents are gone and that chapter of my life is long over. But when I saw that little boy, I wanted to be a child again, having fun with my mom and dad.

I know the drill: Time marches on. You can't go turn back the clock. Don't live in the past. I've got all that, and you know something? It still hurts.

That was quite an emotional day. Earlier in the afternoon, I learned that I had gotten a repreive at my job.

After a few tense weeks of wondering if I would be spending the summer pounding the pavements, I was being reassigned to a new position instead of being canned.

Up until then I had been preparing for the worst and, in fact, had shown up at the office in a suit and tie--a dead giveaway that you're looking--because I had an interview late in the afternoon.

Take A Meeting

Then I get an email from my boss "suggesting" we meet that day at 3 p.m. in the conference room. Those of you who are old enough to remember the "Dragnet" theme should feel to play it on your mental I-pod right now.

I've been in this situation before many times with many jobs. I suspect the problem stems from my staunch loathing for my work combined with my rock-solid refusal to put this hatred aside and soldier on--like most normal people do when working at jobs they can't stand.

I figured if they were going to can me, they wouldn't put it off until late in the afternoon. But I was still nervous. So nervous, in fact, that I decided to go to church on my lunch break. There are no athesists in cubicles.

I was raised Catholic, but I usually stop by Trinity Church for a spiritual oil change, since that place is just up the block from my office.

It's a beautiful church and they've got a lot famous dead people in the cemetery. And I like how things are familiar in the Episcopal Church, yet also different. (I keep forgeting how they add "the power and glory" line to the Our Father.)

But for this important day I thought I should go straight Catholic, so I walked down to Our Lady of the Rosary on State Street.

As I headed down Broadway, I tried to prepare for the worst and plan what I would do if I was told to clean out my desk and hand over my ID card with that hideous picture.

"I'm going to make my fucking film!" I declared to no one in particular.

You see I wrote a screenplay for a short film last year and I have yet to start shooting the damn thing. If I were on the dole, I'd have plenty of time to get a crew together and make it happen.

There was a service going on at the church, so I knelt down before the statue of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and prayed for strength to face whatever going to happen at 3 p.m., though, I really, really wanted to hold on to my job.

Well, my prayers were answered. I've still got a job, which means a steady paycheck and health benefits.

My boss said they liked my attitude and work ethic, which means I finally got smart and kept my mouth shut--unlike other jobs where I couldn't wait to throw a fit or lodge a complaint in a loud, booming voice.

Of course I'm doing the "what if" game now, wondering if I would have finished all my various projects if I could skip working for a couple of months.

Clean Up

I still went for the job interview, sneaking out of the office at 4:30 pm, skating up to Herald Square and meeting with a beefy, ill-mannered young man who sat perspiring behind a keyboard in a half-furnished office. Apparently, they were just moving in...or moving out, I'm not sure.

I talked to Jabba the Putz for all of three minutes before the blubbery nincompoop decided I wasn't right for the job and turned to his computer like it was a tray of steaming lasgna.

"I'm really backed up," he said.

Well, I'm sure a good laxative will take care of that. I left, thanking God yet again for allowing me to keep my current job and saving me from the likes of this dolt. I had forgotten how some people think nothing of wasting your time.

I had spoken to this clown over the phone, sent him all my information, and only when I show up does he decide that we're not a good match. And he was so right.

My sister and I started on another job this week: cleaning out our family's home in preparation for sale.

Since the house has been in the family for 60 years, we have tons of stuff to go through, save, or throw the hell out.

We tossed out several trash bags of crap and plan to devout some time each Sunday in getting the place ready for sale. Naturally, we're finding bits and pieces of our childhood in all the piles. It's hard to say what's trash and what's a treasure.

I found a small pad my mother kept for taking notes and saw my name--"Rob"--in her handwriting and circled. When and why did she write my name? And why did she circle it? Should I keep it for posterity, or is it just a bit of scrap paper?

My sister found photos from my cub scout days and I saw myself as a boy with my parents. My dad is actually a scout uniform, which I have no memory of, and everybody looks so young.

While going through her old bedroom, my sister also found a tiny white shoe that had belonged to my mother. If I didn't know any better I would have thought it was a child's shoe.

"I forgot how small her feet were," I said, and started crying.

There will be more of these scenes, of course, leading right up the day we hand over the keys to the new owner.

So, if I could give my little subway buddy some advice, it would be this: enjoy the time with your parents, let them squeeze you, hold you, and kiss you as much they want.

Treasure every second with them because it's going end one day and all you'll have will be those sacred memories.


Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Hey, Rob! Seems we both work downtown. Trinity is one of my favorite photographic subjects. At least the gardens are. I've written about it more than once on my blog. I have hundreds of photos of it on my Flickr site. I've been collecting photos for another post, a mid-summer update on the gardens, ie: the cemetery.

I appreciate what you say about (your) parents. I know I don't have much time left with mine. I try to treat each interaction as if it's our last. I don't always succeed.

Rob K said...

Hey, Chris, thanks for stopping by. You work in the Wall Street hood, too--excellent.

I do love Trinity. It's a beaufitul church with lovely property. I'm looking forward to your post.

Point well taken about the parents. It's a difficult time and we can only do our best.