Tuesday was my first day back at work following my seventeen-day hiatus. Due to the mountains of garbage bags piled high on the sidewalk because trash collection has been hindered since December 26th’s epic snowstorm, there was a very narrow lane to walk enroute to the 72nd Street subway station. I could have done what a guy in a trench coat did – walk in the middle of West 73rd Street, but this is New York, where oncoming traffic speeds up even if you’re in the sidewalk with the walk signal on your side. I had zero desire to wind up road kill on my first day back at the grind in the New Year. Therefore, I was stuck walking up the narrow swath of sidewalk behind a drip of woman with a little less sensuality than Olive Oyl – no thought provoking fantasies playing in my head there, unless trampling her counts. She walked so slowly, she could have been a Yugo stuck in park. I felt myself feeling a tad anxious:
Me (what I wanted to scream): Move your boney ass, girlfriend! I’d like to get to work before the weekend!
Me (thinking): Calm down. Don’t set off your gastritis. So you might be a little late. It’s not the end of the world.
I entered the subway station – just as the packed express train heading downtown was pulling out and a local with empty seats had entered. I hopped on the local. This I only do when I’m not running late, but today I thought, “Screw it. I want to read my New Yorker.” I worked my way over to two guys hogging four seats – the death defying dude in the trench coat and a chub built like Buddha. I could feel Buddha reading over my shoulder, but when I opened my magazine to the massively wordy The Talk of the Town section, he re-focused his gaze on material more suited to his interests, a discarded Kit Kat wrapper lying on the floor.
With the theme from Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon playing on my internal iPod, an orchestration I would appreciate played at my funeral (click the link; it’s well worth a listen), I exited the train at my Tribeca stop and low-tailed to my place of employ a full ten minutes late.
When I enter, who do I see standing at the front desk, leafing through her pile of mail? Elsbeth, my boss. Since I have been the middle finger of her right hand going on seven years, and this is the first time she has seen my scowling face in eighteen days, if she’s aware that I’m late, she doesn’t mention it. I approach her.
Me: Happy New Year, Boss.
Elsbeth: Looks like someone went through the mail while I was away.
I normally retrieve her mail when I enter. My Lord and Master hands a stack of junk to her husband to discard.
Elsbeth: Happy New Year. Did you have a nice vacation?
Me: Yes. Did you?
It is evident that my leader is feeling as morose as me about being back. Comforting.
Elsbeth and I are given an elevator ride up to our fifth floor office, so I’m spared having to climb five flights of stairs; the highlight of my day. We enter the office where we greet the staff. Everyone looks dour. I mingle with my two closest buddies, Ling and Greg, and although I’m truly happy to see them, we’re all in agreement that it sucks to be back.
By early afternoon, the bane of my existence, the printer, has begun jamming incessantly.
By day’s end, I’m ready for another seventeen days off.