A few years ago, I went to work for a man who owned a window and door manufacturing and installation business, but was branching into elevators… fireproof elevators. My first days on the job were spent accompanying him, in his poorly suspended box truck, on a drive from Brooklyn to Boston to attend an elevator conference.
After his conference meetings, dinner, and a few glasses of wine, he would ask me to meet him in his room, to type things up for him while he stood behind me, breathing heavily and scratching himself. On my third day of this, I packed my bags, left him a note, and boarded a train back to New York.
The job had been my ticket out of working as a live-in nanny in the ‘burbs of New Jersey. I had taken the job, moved in with a friend in Hoboken, and now, had no job and owed her eight hundred dollars a month for rent.
For the next two weeks, in the throes of a violent head cold, I emailed, called and met with every potential job lead I could find on Craigslist. My parents sent me money to pay for my existence while I scrambled for work. Meanwhile, the “elevator guy” emailed me, asking if I’d gotten home all right.
I was terrified that I would have to go back to Oregon. I was more terrified of going back to Oregon than I was of working for a man who made inappropriate advances.
So, after the new year, I started work again at the window, door and some-day elevator company. He paid us an approximation of our wages in cash, because he couldn’t afford to cut the full checks “yet.” He hadn’t paid taxes or most of his bills in about a year and a half. One day, alone in the office, I answered the buzzer to find an IRS agent standing outside, who had just “dropped by” and needed to speak with my manager ASAP. That was just one fun highlight, though, from a typical week of putting up with his farts, his dandruff, his breathing over me, reaching over me, making comments about “oops- touched you!”
I worked there for two or three months. until I miraculously found the recruiting job. I put up with it because I didn’t want to go home. I was desperate to stay in New York. I loved it there- the trains, the skyscrapers, the noise, the crowds, the unpredictability, the Urban Outfitters on the corner of 14th Street and 6th Avenue. Sometimes I dated, sometimes I didn’t, sometimes I hung out with my girlfriend a lot, sometimes I didn’t, but one thing remained consistent- at least one day every weekend, I spent in Manhattan.
On the other hand, I got by all summer here in Buffalo “with a little help from my friends.” Dawn and Candi talked with me about the DF over mojitos and martinis. My boss conspired with me to diversify the organization. Plumptopher held parties and game nights at his house. Life was fun, when I had company. But left to my own devices on a Saturday afternoon, I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t, and don’t, particularly care about exploring or learning more about Buffalo or Western New York. It’s not my cup of tea. I could fight that, by trying to force myself to enjoy it more, or I could admit that I want to go to the Met, I want to see beautiful people on public transit, and I want to have more than one option (aside from the grocery store) for great sushi.
You can get by with a little help from your friends, as long as your friends are there to distract, entertain and cajole you into a good time. When friends don’t have time to do that, you fall back on your own resources. Sometimes you realize, “Well, I’ll be okay, I can head for the Village, get brunch at Cowgirl, admire Jersey City from across the Hudson, maybe see a movie at IFC.” And other times you realize, “I have no desire to get out of bed today, unless the gang is going to lure me with a pitcher of beer and lots of pizza.”
And that’s when you look at your rabbit, and think, “Maybe we need to make plans.”