I love to write, and the fact that I don’t often have anything particularly important to say should not deter you from loving to read. But if I’m expecting my writing to pay the bills around here, I’m going to need some smaller bills. For that I rely on my day job, working at the big television network in the big city. I’ve been there for 40 years now, and quite a bit has changed over the years in the network, in the city and in myself. But one thing has remained the same, and that is that the hardest part about my job is getting there.
A lot of people hate to commute into Manhattan, but I’ve come to embrace the trip. I get some sleep and some exercise, and I engage in one of my favorite activities, people-watching. By the time board the 8:04 at Goldens Bridge and present my monthly pass, I’m already worn out and ready for a nap. The sound of the conductor’s voice wakes me up at Grand Central Terminal: “Please exit the train as quickly and safely as possible!” I exit the train fairly slowly, but in an extremely safe manner. There are more announcements at the station to be careful of the gap in between the train and the platform. One time a girl got drunk and fell into the gap, she may still be there for all I know, and now we all have to suffer these insufferable announcements and disclaimers; it’s the American Way.
It’s pouring outside so I decide not to ride my bike to my office and opt for Plan B, the subway. There are only two out of three tracks in service at the Times Square Shuttle today, and and everyone is waiting at Track One. The computer generated announcement that clips the first letter off of each word says: “A rain is approaching on rack oo!” So we all run over to Track Two. “Areful of the osing oors on rack un!” So we all run over to Track One, where the train has already come, opened its doors and closed them. Meanwhile the train has arrived at Track Two. “Areful the osing oors on rack oo!” I swear this really happened, and while everyone was scratching to get back to Track Two I put on my rain gear and unlocked my bike.
I’m sopping wet by the time I reach the Broadcast Center. My pants are tucked into my socks, my sneakers are soaked, I’m wearing a red poncho with the hood held in place by a pair of ski goggles and I’m dripping water from my nose, at least I hope it’s water. A sloshing sound is coming from my sneakers as I get in the elevator. Inside the car of course is the gal from “Inside Edition,” who works on my floor, blonde, about six foot-three in heels, two legs that are decorative as well as functional, perfectly dressed with not a hair out of place and kind of gorgeous. I look like a cross between Rocky the flying squirrel and the creature from the black lagoon. She beams a perfect smile at me with not a tooth out of place while we both try to pretend I’m not there. In my daydream we work on the 137th floor, enough time for me to get up the nerve to say hello to her. “You know, I don’t always look like the creature from the black lagoon,” I casually point out. “I know,” she says, “I see you all the time, and you usually look like a creature from a different-colored lagoon.”
I open up my office and remove my socks to drip dry them next to the radiator. Working in television is not as glamorous as you might think. Now that I’m here I get down to my work as part of a team at Network Operations that keeps the shows airing correctly. It is my job to make sure your “Survivor” survives, your “Big Bang Theory” doesn’t implode and your “Blue Bloods” doesn’t hemorrhage. There are facilities to be booked, commercial schedules to be implemented and satellite paths to be mapped out.
Before I know it it’s time to leave earlier than I’m supposed to, and also before my boss knows it. I hop on my bike and make it back to Grand Central, just in time for the conductor’s speech before the 5:44 closes its doors. He launches into a soliloquy the approximate length of the U.S. Constitution, highlighting the trials and tribulations of leaving your bags in the aisles instead of storing them in the overhead bins. “This is a SAFETY hazard!” He holds this and other truths to be self-evident but points them out a few times just in case. If I had known how fraught with danger it is to ride the train I would have picked a safer method of transportation, such as parachuting in.
At home I can finally relax and put my feet up, turn on the TV and watch the fruits of my labor. If the wrong commercial airs on “NCIS” maybe none of the 11 million viewers will notice. I’m pretty confident, but just in case, while I’m relaxing I hide under the couch in the fetal position.
Join Rick and Trillium on Friday, February 28th, at the Katonah Library at 6:00PM for Chili Night! Say hello at: firstname.lastname@example.org