Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Sixty-six

Posted by ilbebe on January 6, 2012

I finally got a job towards on Sunday, January 18th, 2009, about ten days ahead of my self-imposed deadline to find work or move back home again. I’d applied for all sorts of positions since my job hunt had begun in early November ‘08; restaurant work, office crap, Sur La Table on Fourth Street, a seasonal job at the zoo which I actually got a call back about an interview for. The guy I talked to while setting up the zoo interview seemed really cool; he actually seemed enthused by my refusal of a Saturday afternoon interview on the grounds that I was going to a SF Ghost Society Benefit show at a bar he used to frequent.

“El Rio? Ah, I know that place. Good times!”

So I arranged an interview for Sunday at 11AM. Around 6AM that Sunday morning, I was awakened by the cell phone alarm I’d set for myself, in order to give myself enough time to get back to Oakland and drink coffee out of a fire hydrant for a couple minutes so as not to blow my interview for a SEASONAL JOB WITH THE ZOO. In my stupor I looked at my phone strangely and wondered what sort of asshole would be calling me at that time. I next opened my eyes at about 11:15AM, and immediately started trying to recall what it was I was supposed to do when I got up. It took a few minutes for me to put my mental finger on it, and when I realized that I had, in fact, SLEPT IN and MISSED MY INTERVIEW WITH THE ZOO, it was hard not to cry.

So I was ecstatic to open up my email one Sunday night in January, 2009 and find out that I had been hired on for 20 hours a week working in the souvenir merchandise operation at Wicked, the Musical, at the Orpheum Theater in SF. The interview alone had been an experience. I had been to several large theaters before in my life, but never had I found myself being ushered in by a solemn security guard and an affable Kentucky native who was to be one of my supervisors for a job interview. I sat across a folding table from three strangers in a basement hallway and told them about my pulse, my ability to fog a mirror, and my competent math skills, then sealed the deal with a lie about hawking popcorn at high school basketball games. My future direct General Manager mostly scrolled through whatever on his BlackBerry and nodded in assent during the process, and I remember that my parting statement to the panel of three was “Well, if nothing else, this is one of the more interesting interviews I’ve ever been a part of.”

The job offer email said to respond and confirm with my preference for one of two different training days that were being offered later in the week. I chose Thursday, January 22, 2009. What a day it would turn out to be.

Within ten minutes of leaving my house to walk to BART to go into the city for the training session, I found a lucky penny and stepped in dog shit, in that order. I tried not to parse these omens too closely on the half-hour train ride to the city.

The training session at work went very smoothly. My aforementioned GM, Tad, was a seasoned road manager, and had been training new crews of workers every four-to-eight weeks for the last year and a half. He knew what he was doing, and he had a sense of humor about it. It was revealed that his wife Air was our senior crew member, and she seemed pretty great too. We had a two-hour break between training sessions which I used to visit my sister L at work, which was great. I called my friend Duane in Seattle, and told him I was going to visit in early March. I also got a call from my sister T who said she would probably be moving back to the Bay Area before the end of February. All of this was very encouraging news. Then I visited an ATM to take out a $20 cash advance on one of my credit cards, all of which were near the bursting point because of my recently-ended spell of unemployment.

At the end of the shift, I signed up to come back the next day and fold t-shirts, and I was near ecstatic about the couple of extra hours I could put on my first paycheck. Then I left work to go buy mushrooms in a different part of SF.

I was momentarily unnerved when I realized that a girl I had just gone through the training session was getting on the same bus I was to visit my man. Complicating the matter further was that she was very attractive, and I was a guy. We politely traded a few bon mots about the job, the weather, and the bus, then ignored each other until I got off and went to Er’s house. Er let me in, and I proceeded to have rather charmed few hours where Er smoked me out, told me of some energy healing he had recently received in Yreka, and introduced me to a fellow named Jer who had some brain damage and a lot of theories as to who was responsible for it. After Jer started getting to be a bit much, Er hooked up the biz, and then I was on my way back to Oakland to see my roommate’s metal band play at a bar.

Muni took my expired transfer, and a yellow-line train pulled in right as I hit the platform at Civic Center BART. It felt good to be paying for BART again; I had been jumping the gate a lot in the preceding months, but I had sworn off theft on the new year as a token of my commitment to following a more virtuous path. As the train left Civic Center, I thought everything was moving along very nicely. I had no way at the time of anticipating the dread I would feel moving through that station in the nineteen months to come, but I would have suppressed it even if I had. I was on my way to the Stork to see some metal, and I had drugs financed by cash advance. I was on my way out of the void.

I got to the show and my roommate’s band played shortly thereafter. They were awesome. I had never been a big fan of metal, but I have always been down with music played by musicians who are really fucking into it. I was rediscovering some energy that had been sorely lacking in my experiences the prior month, and there were a few other people in the crowd going absolutely bananas and trying to start a pit. On the smoking patio after the set ended, a shirtless guy with a leather jacket walked up towards me rather menacingly. Apparently I was talking to his lady.

“Hey baby,” he said as he grabbed her arm and glared at me. “Who ya talking to?”

After sorting out my non-threat status, I asked him what he was holding in his hand. “Ah, some asshole spilled beer all over me when I was trying to start the pit. And I just got this shirt. Check it out!”

It was awesome; a black and gray design that had Christopher Walken’s head in the middle of a skull-and-crossbones design. I said I thought it was fucking great.

He smiled broadly. “You like this shirt? You got good taste. It’s yours.”

A half-hour later, this shirtless epitome of selflessness was moshing senselessly to a mildly cartoonish act from LA called Eyes of Noctum. The singer was wearing full Viking/Predator regalia, and his brooding cookie-monster growl sometimes trailed off while talking to the crowd between songs. Someone told me he was Nicolas Cage’s son. Since when was the world so fucking funny and rad?

Where had this benevolent aspect of the universe been hiding the previous three months during the agonizing job search and accompanying self-doubt? Had the debilitating cough I’d picked up the week before Christmas and carried right up until the week I started Wicked been a harbinger of adversity to come? Was me punching a girl in the arm around 4AM New Year’s Day a foolish move, karmically?

I had agonized over these questions, but as I strode the three miles home in my new dress shoes in the middle of the night with mushrooms in my jacket pocket and a beer-soaked t-shirt in one freezing hand, a cigarette in the other, I felt that things were going my way again, and getting home and discovering that my other roommate had brought home about 300 chicken wings leftover from a party hosted at his work confirmed that, be that it may I was thinner than I’d been in my entire life, the Wicked days were going to be sweet, and filled with chicken.

The next day, riding BART into work, I wrote something in my notebook:

“In a play about a play we see a theater within a theater, and consider the million tiny flames that burn within each other on a lampwick, and consider our lives, unique in the cosmos as any star or cloud, with just as much potential, and just as free.” -Me, 1/23/09, on the way to work on BART

And here’s January again, new hopes putting old to bed.

-Me, 1/6/12, 1:54AM, at home, satisfied at last, for now

Advertisements

One Response to “Sixty-six”

  1. Britney said

    Man, training night. I remember once everyone found out there was not one but two power couples working for Wicked I remember them saying “Who knows? Chances are you may find the love of your life in someone here in this room”…or something to that effect. I’m pretty sure Justin and that Fred guy (was that his name?) were the only guys there. I remember thinking “heh, right, that’ll happen”. I was half right, I did find an amazing person at that job, but sure as hell was not Justin.

    Then, I came to find my car had been towed. Hey, I think this New Year’s bad luck thing was far overdue, I don’t remember anything too terrible happening in 2010 or 11. Ok universe, you can have my crap, just gimme another couple o’ good years. Thanks again for being there today, hugging you was just what I needed to begin the healing process.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: