Friday, April 30, 2010

Sunday in the Park

but not with George. Truth be told, I don't know any of these people:

However, I really do like the guy on the lower right hand side, facing the camera. He has a Seventies look about him, which gives the image a timeless quality. Well, not actually timeless, more like a Seventies quality. But I like that. Also, I don't think you can see a single person with a cell phone in the shot. At least, it's not overly obvious.

I suppose it's fitting that my head is killing me as I sit here to write about the closing of St. Vincent's. But it's making me think even more about how this whole census thing is complete bullshit.

The federal government already knows where I live. Each year they never fail to remind me that I have income tax that needs paying, or that nice little personalized pamphlet the Social Security people send me this time of year telling me how much I made the previous year, and all the years before going back to 1986 when I made FIFTY-FIVE DOLLARS! Look out Bill Gates, I'm a-comin'!

Some of the census propaganda says that they use the information to determine whether new roads need to be built in my area. I don't think any new roads are going to be built in Manhattan. On the subway, the signs say that the information gathered by the department of commerce can also determine where new hospitals are needed. Well, the census had nothing to do with St. Vincent's closing. It seems to be the mantra going around that the same federal government will bail out banks, yet your friendly neighborhood hospital gets the sheet pulled up over its head.

I heard that to replace the hospital, there will be an emergency care center located somewhere nearby. That's even worse than no hospital. It's like you go to the emergency room, and then if you're really in bad shape, then they take you cross town to Beth Israel. It seems that middle part is an unnecessary step in all this. It's just fucking pathetic.

You know, I once worked for the census bureau. It was January, 1990, and I was 19 years old with dreams of being an enumerator. I envisioned myself driving around in my 1986 black Thunderbird knocking on complete strangers' doors wearing a sport jacket with a clipboard in my hand and a smoldering cigarillo dangling from my lips. But being that this was January, our job was to set up the New Milford (I think it was New Milford) New Jersey office.

The head of the office just happened to be my good friend Trebor's mom, and they lived just two houses down the street. She always seemed to like me, as far as friends of her son went, but now I wasn't just showing up to hang out with Trebor and talk about all the great things we'd get for our cars in that month's Hemming's Motor News like louvers for our rear windows and roll bars and CRAGAR MAGS — the ultimate in wheels. Now I was Trebor's mom's employee.

She wasn't my direct boss. That was someone whose name I've completely forgotten, but she was a woman, probably in her mid-20s. I didn't really get along with her. It was a pretty agonistic relationship. I don't know if it was because she was a woman, or because there was just something about us that just didn't mesh, or because I was a dick, or some combination of the three. Either way, neither she, nor the other younger employees didn't like me. But there was one woman who absolutely loved me.

Again, I can't remember her name, but she must have been in her late 40s at the youngest. Maybe I reminded her of her son (god forbid). On my second day at the job, she said she had a gift for me, and presented me with a shoebox filled with cupcakes. Now I have no idea what I did to make such an impression on this woman for her to go through the trouble of baking me cupcakes, but there they were, six vanilla-frosted chocolate cupcakes, and all that goodness was just for moi. Or was it goodness?

Maybe this woman was crazy, I thought to myself. Maybe they were poison cupcakes. Maybe I take a bite and the next thing I know I'm the newest resident at Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus. I smiled politely and said I'd have one later.

After work that day I drove to my old job, which was an auto parts store. As I walked in I saw my favorite former co-worker. And by favorite, I mean the one I couldn't stand. She was a counterperson and much like my immediate boss at the Census Bureau, we never quite got along (I think I see a pattern here). Since I was a driver, my contact with her was somewhat limited. But it was still enough so we could rankle each other quite thoroughly. I hadn't been in there after I quit a few months earlier, so it was all somewhat feigned pleasantries as we said hello. "What have you got there?" she asked me, motioning to the shoebox cradled in my arm.

I opened it on the counter and said, "A coworker baked them. Have one." She dutifully picked out a cupcake and put it to her lips, while I took one also and did the same.

Why did I eat the cupcake, knowing it might have been poisoned? Well, I'm too much of a sucker for baked goods. Besides, if the coroner was going to write on my chart, "Death by Cupcake," I was going to make damn well sure that he'd have to write it just once more.

I lasted all of three weeks at the Census Bureau before Trebor's mom called me into her office and said, "You're fired." I said thanks, and let her know I'd be by later on that night. The new Hemming's had just come in, and Trebor and I had a lot of daydreaming to do.

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