Since things have been getting heavy around here, to wit: last week’s post which ended on a sad note, your friendly bartender has decided to go sweet this week. Literally, “sweet this week”, as in Capra-esque. Here we go…
A former colleague of mine with whom I’d worked when I first started out, a guy I’ll call Tony for purposes of this story, decided one day to finally hang up his apron. Just like that. A job he’d been doing for almost his entire adult life. Like over twenty years of it. He said he was tired of slinging the drinks and slinging the bullshit as well, he simply wanted to enjoy his life for a while. (Like for two years of it!) For that’s how long he went on the lam doing absolutely nothing (how fucking much did he have under his mattress???), after which time he decided to go be a dog walker. Just like that also! He liked to walk Central Park as it was, he did so almost daily, so why not take some dogs along and make cash for it. Tax free!
“I really do like this dog walking stuff,” he told me one day when I saw him leashed to a wire hair. “First off the walking keeps me in shape, I happen to love dogs anyway, and I’m easily knocking my rent down with room to spare. It’s a win-win-win!” And it really was a win-win-win, especially “win” number three, for he’d inherited his mother’s rent controlled apartment after moving in to care for her before she died, and was only paying a paltry four hundred a month. Nice rent if you can get it!
But after two long years of being “dog’s best friend”, walking and scooping through life on the streets of Manhattan, the job, just like tending bar, started to get old for him. And cold! The freezing temperatures that came in the winter, not to mention the driving rains at winter’s end, eventually put “lose-lose” in that “win-win-win”. And that was just part of it. Some walks demanded a six a.m. start while others would pull him to task at eight o’clock at night. Or even later! Yeah, a leash was involved in the job all right but Tony was starting to feel like he was being tethered. To a clock! So just like with tending bar he suddenly chucked it. No more pooch pay.
However, unlike after his bartending days his mattress wasn’t as lumpy, his bills were starting to mount and he needed to work. Find a real job. A job where his name was actually on the books, where he’d dutifully pay his taxes, and maybe receive this thing that they now call health care. Which to him shouted, “Doorman!”
Yes, that’s what I’ll do, he eureka’d, the moment that thought came to mind, it’s just like tending bar in a way… you’re serving the public but in this case the people are sober! (Except for maybe that salesman in 4-B!)
So he retraced his steps from his dog walking days and dropped off several resumes with all the supers he’d met, and in other buildings with doorman he’d gotten to know. And after a couple of months of beating the pavement and himself up for not getting into this stuff much sooner (his legendary stash was really starting to wane now), he finally got a call to go and fill in somewhere. To do some temp work. Someone had taken a leave of absence which might turn out to be permanent, and this was a chance to see if they liked our boy Tony. Which thankfully they did. For he not only did every shift they requested, some on short notice while others took place on holidays, but he did it with a spotless record and always with class. Now I know we’re not talking brain surgeon here… opening doors for people, hailing taxis when needed, receiving packages and smiling at all who walk by you… but you actually can fuck this up and Tony didn’t. He became a real doorman.
Or so he thought.
When their co-op board had a meeting last week to discuss its various concerns, one of which was what to do about a doorman (a permanent doorman as the other guy wasn’t coming back), Tony’s name was mentioned as the obvious replacement. He’d been with the building for over two months, performed without a complaint, and based on the board’s discussion he seemed a lock.
Except for this guy…
“Whoa, wait a minute,” he shouted, after all had agreed that Tony was indeed their guy, “wait just a damn minute and let’s talk about this. Wasn’t this guy like a dog walker or something before this?” Several people nodded when he asked that question. “Well then c’mon now,” he continued, “can’t we do better than hiring a dog walker? My God!” And he said it as though he were talking about some dope dealer. This wasn’t just elitism, this was prickery!
So the very next day the super of the building who’d been in attendnace and witness to this witless evaluation, pulled my friend aside and said the following. “I’m sorry, Tony, I’ve got some bad news for you. One of the guys on the board said, ‘Can’t we do better than hiring a dog walker?’ He seemed to have a problem with that and after the meeting was over they told me to fire you. I’m sorry, I really am ’cause you did a good job for us. But those are my orders.” And to make matters worse he added, “But could you stay on a coupla’ days and train the new guy?” (Talk about balls!) But my friend, a pro to the end, did as he was asked.
Now here’s where the good part comes in and that Capra-esque finish I promised. Think “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, the final scene.
Yesterday morning my friend called me up and told me he’d gotten a call from a lady at the union hall. And the woman was ecstatic. “My phone’s been ringing off the hook,” she had gushed,” from the people who live in that building, and every call a request for you to get your job back. I’m serious! The new guy you trained is not working out (I told you you could fuck up that job) they overruled the board and they want you back. They absolutely love you! Now come down here and sign yourself up, I’m putting you in the union.”
Sweet, huh? For it’s proof that old dogs can learn new tricks, and so can old dog walkers, no to mention old bartenders if given half a chance. And from now on whenever I see my friend framed in that huge picture window, the one that fronts the lobby of his brand new workplace, I’ll realize “the Capra ending” is not just for movies. Stuff like that happens! 🙂
See ya’ next week-end, dear reader, unless I switch careers and go into botany!