Monthly Archives: January 2011

I See It Now

I have got to get out of the hellhole cigar shop as soon as possible. A job cleaning toilets seems more preferable to dealing with an enabling general manager and a half drunk assistant manager. The half drunk manager who’s catch phrase is ‘exactly’ followed by a few seconds of nervous laughter.

I don’t know why but for some reason I thought he was intelligent. He’s not. It all started yesterday. That was partially my fault. Fred said to me that he thought Sean always goofs off and doesn’t do very much besides that.

On the phone in the office, never around when you need him and when he is around, if you ask him to do something it’s all attitude. Ah, the life and mindset of a 20 year old. Stupid me, after dealing with someone like Juan, who was 20 years old when we started hanging out, figured that Sean is probably savvy like that.


I was off by a mile. Sean confronted Fred, using almost the exact words. When I saw Sean on Sunday I asked him why did he say that? Didn’t he realize that he had the power of knowing who says what about him, but that doesn’t mean he has to act upon it?

No, the 20 year old did not realize that and raised his voice saying that if anyone talks smack about him, they will get smacked in the mouth. Needless to say the day was spent avoiding Sean, with Fred nipping at my heels since I am basically the only one who listens to him speak.

The day couldn’t end soon enough and it didn’t. My weekly phone call to Annemarie probably sounded like a drag to her. The bemoaning of my work situation would have sounded maudlin to just about anyone.

Came back to work after lunch, a Ma & Pa special reminiscent of Sunday evenings at Maxwells back in the day. It hadn’t changed, Sean just as petulant as ever and Fred nip nip nipping at my heels. I did make it home to Bill’s loving arms and no pizza. That wasn’t so bad.

Slept OK, Bill was out at 6:00 this morning and I stayed in bed as long as I could, getting out of bed around 8:15. Got myself together, showered, shaved (been a few days since I shaved and the beard was coming in white!), breakfast and coffee while scanning job listings and sending out resumes and greetings to various recruiters.

Took half a tab of Xanax before heading out. A stop at the post office to drop off my brother in law Rex’s birthday present and then I ran into Rand on the street. His beard is coming in nicely. It matched the hair on his head, not offering a John Bolton look.

After that I was waiting at the usual bus stop, looking for that elusive 126 bus. Made it into the shop, the Bradley was talking to a customer as I walked by and said ‘Morning gents’ and got my coat and bag off. Marcus was in the shop and Calvin was around somewhere.

The neighbors have been complaining about cigar smoke and so some environmental company were in to clean vents and make sure fans were working. Let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time until the back room is closed. I enjoy smoking, but it’s unpopular and the neighbors are complaining several times a week.

A few times when I go into the back room to tidy things up as 10 or 12 cigar smokers are puffing away the smoke is so thick that it feels like I too am smoking a cigar. I mention it to Calvin but he just plays into his drunken denial. And Marcus’ attitude is the neighbors didn’t complain directly to the store, instead going to security so therefore since they did not follow protocol, there is no problem.

Crisis? What crisis?

So the Bradley and a customer are talking as I polish items over and over again, day by day. Cleaning mirrors and glass shelves. Making sure item numbers are visible so picking up and looking for the number would be easier.

The phone rings and the Bradley answers it. “John Ozed? Yes hold on.” The Bradley tells me I have a call, so I stop what I am doing and put the items I was working with away. I walk over to phone and the Bradley gives it to me. No one on the phone, just a dial tone. The Bradley and his prank. I look him dead in the eye and tell him to never do that again.

As I went back to what I was doing, as well as cleaning the store so the cleaning woman has an easy time when she comes in I mention to the Bradley that working there is hard enough and I do not need his shit.

Another thing, on Friday I was told to clear off a shelf on Sunday before I left so a vent could be accessed. Calvin knew about it. What does he do? On Saturday, Calvin has Sean and Fred clean up that shelf, straighten up the cigars boxes and whatnot, just so they could be taken down by me on Sunday night.

Today Calvin tells me that Fred is no longer allowed to ring up sales, having messed up this weekend. Then Calvin went back to the office and stare at the camera recordings with a bottle of Molson in front of him. Seeing notes that he wrote while doing so, I noticed he had times that Sean was in the lounge, in the office, wherever.

He had me written down too, but my time seemed to be only once and it was for eight minutes which can’t be too bad. And if they bring it up I will say it was my break. You work 8 hours, you are entitled to two 15 minute breaks. In any event, I have to get the hell out of there as soon as possible.

Like I said, I will clean toilets. I have a new toothbrush just for the occasion.
I’d even consider Bala Cynwyd.

taking out the garbage since the cleaning woman who knew where it goes on Friday, forgot where it supposed to go on Monday

I Only Have Eyes For You

I used to nap in style,
An hour was worth my while,
10 minutes at best
Is my current rest,
And 50 minutes are in denial.

That limerick is true. I just made it up, the first line in my mind when I woke up from the aforementioned nap. I thought I’d have an hour long nap but it didn’t turn out to be that way. No worries, 10 minutes was enough but more would have been nice as well. A cat nap is all I needed I suppose.

I didn’t exert myself much at all today. Been lazy but somewhat productive. Errands were run, groceries were bought. I rarely have Saturdays off these days and was surprised that the price of the Daily News is now a dollar. Threw me for a loop. A buck.

At risk of sounding like an old geezer, but I remember buying the Daily News for five cents, the Night Owl edition at the Saddle Brook Diner. I used to eat a lot at that diner. It was and still is across the street from the Saddle Brook VFW, where I spent a lot of time when I was growing up.

It was where my brother Brian and some other children of drunken veterans were accused of stealing tips by the staff. I also saw a car accident where everything seemed to go into slow motion right outside the diner, and I sort of knew one of the people involved in the accident, one of the Peplowski girls from the other side of Lodi.

Three visits to the dry cleaners today. One was to drop off, one was to pick up and another time later on to pick up Bill’s stuff. The owner’s name is Mona and I like her. Mona and her husband run a cheerful shop and they do good work at a good price.

Not much planned for the evening. Had a headache most of the day and aspirin did not do the job. Woke up with it actually. Figured it was a dehydration headache and hydrated myself as soon as I could but the headache persisted, hence the aspirin.

It seems like the ten minute nap did the job and I feel a whole lot better, but a desire to go out is nonexistent. Anyway, I have to work tomorrow.

I noticed this morning when I was out and about, that the 10:30 bus that never shows up when I need to go to work on a Saturday morning showed up when it was supposed to. I cannot help but take this personally.

Is my reputation that terrible that bus drivers will forgo a time table just to avoid me, at the cost of dozens of riders? And does this have anything to bear on my relationship with my own personal bus driver- Bill, who just so happens to be driving to Atlantic City tonight? It’s certainly most unnerving.

And now I am going to make some dinner, using the sauce that Stine made last week. Since tomorrow is Sunday, I won’t be writing unless there is something extraordinary to write about.

That’s about it, smell ya later.

I Never Knew

It’s Friday night! I’m happy about it, thrilled actually. I am off tomorrow and I think the last time I was off on a Saturday was Christmas day. And what am I going to do tonight? Nothing at all. I am home after yet another 10 hour shift.

Last night I came home, Bill was meeting up with his friend Fred who used to go out with not just Margaret but also Lisa, Rand’s wife. We found that juicy tidbit out in July when Lisa was surprised and perhaps even horrified to see Fred.

Bill and I never got to the bottom of that, getting Lisa’s side of the story, nor have we heard Fred’s side. But that was almost 20 years ago so who really cares anyway? So Bill was out, I came home and had time to myself which involved some navel gazing and of course I was quite sullen.

Nothing to do with much of anything really, just quiet and morose. Bill came home and tried to cheer me up but there I was playing the ‘saddo’ role. He went to bed and I stayed up a little while watching Spartacus on cable.

Not the Kubrick movie but the cable show. I don’t think I have ever seen anything as violent as that. And a quite stylized violence at that. One of the customers told me about the show and since he’s a decent bloke I thought it would be alright to see.

And it was not just over the top, it was off with his head. In slow motion and blood, lots of blood. And Romans telling each other to eat shit a lot. I couldn’t be arsed to watch the whole thing and I’m sure I didn’t miss much at all, though it was nice to see Lucy Lawless working again.

Slept ok and it was off to work again this morning. Calvin was in today and did not bring up the emails I sent. Marcus was interviewing a woman for a full time position at the cigar shop leading me to think my days are numbered.

I was thinking that anyhow when Calvin mentioned that I had come in last place with my sales over the holiday season, my 50k sales. It really wouldn’t bother me too much if I was let go, it would free me up to go on interviews if and when they arrive.

That is if the interview I had this past week comes in. It would be nice but not holding my breath. Got to keep on, keepin’ on. Apparently the official line is they’re going to get rid of Fred the part timer. He doesn’t really need the job, he’s a manager of sorts at a big Manhattan hotel and only works at the shop for a discount on cigars.

That’s the official line to which I was not privy to. I still have my suspicions mixed with a despairing hope. Bill just came back from rehearsal and smarmy Bill Maher is on TV.

That’s about all I have to say right now. If I have more to say later I will write, but for now, that’s it.

I Loved Her

Oh it snowed and snowed last night. Not a million inches, but maybe a foot or so. I had difficulty going to sleep since I went to bed a little bit earlier than usual and remedied the situation by getting out of bed and popping a melatonin tablet which seemed to have done the trick.

I also watched a good part of David Cronenberg’s The Fly which while good has dated somewhat. I remember seeing it in a theater in Secaucus with Chaz and maybe Steve Saporito perhaps under the influence of lysergic or psilocybin. Good times.

As usual Bill was up before me and wasn’t sure if he was going to go to work. I wasn’t sure if I was going to work myself. The news was on and all reports were saying that if you didn’t have to go to work, if it wasn’t an emergency, stay home.

And NJ Transit buses were said to be suspended. Even though Calvin was not going to work today, he was taking his kid to school, I sent him an email letting him know what was up. I figured since he’s the assistant manager, he should be kept abreast of what was going on.

I guess since he was off today, he would not be answering any emails since 12 hours later, no response from him. He was probably too busy to respond, since the NYC schools were all closed due to the snow.

Bill made it to Washington Street with no problem and let me know he was on the bus. Apparently bus service had been restored. I got myself together and basically wore the same suit I wore yesterday. That’s something I never do, wear the same suit twice in one week, but lately I just don’t care. Who am I trying to impress?

I made it to the bus stop after walking in the streets and sidewalks and got on my usual bus which was on time. The bus filled up rather fast and it was soon standing room only. Most of the twenty somethings on the bus were too busy playing with their crackberries and their iPhones to listen to the bus driver asking them to move to the back and make room for other people trying to get on the bus.

Other than that, the ride was uneventful. The bus terminal wasn’t crowded, most people heeded the advice and stayed home. I got to the cigar store on time and was disappointed to see Marcus in the shop.

The Bradley was working with me, he texted me earlier letting me know it would be him and me basically. Fred the part timer was not coming in having phoned in sick. I didn’t mind, even though it meant I would be a prisoner in the cigar shop most of the day.

No escape for lunch, no visit to the internet café. Marcus eventually left and after the Bradley had his lunch, I was able to get a Shepard’s pie which I greatly enjoyed. Perfect rib sticking meal for a day like today.

The day progressed oh so slowly and the Bradley and I had a few laughs throughout the afternoon. The Bradley left around 7:00 and I had the store to myself which was alright if it weren’t for the last 3 customers who were just obnoxious.

I also kept getting the stupidest customers today which seemed to be par for the course. Now I’m home, and quite happy to be here. One more day of work and then I’m off on Saturday which is when another snowstorm is expected. I don’t care, I thought most of the snow fall was quite beautiful.

Bill heading off to work

Snowy rooftops

I Love You

Well there was a snow storm when I left the apartment this morning and there is a snow storm right now, 12 hours later. I enjoyed it more in the evening and hope that a million inches of snow falls. And two million inches of snow to fall upon Bala Cynwyd since they seem to be lacking in cheerfulness and snow angels, among other things.

In between snow storms it rained, it sleeted and snowed a bit with high whipping winds and slush everywhere. Still no word from the Susquehanna Investment Group, wanker bankers they seem to be, but their phallus fallacies are not my immediate concern.

Slept OK last night, no great shakes. Bill was up and out around 5:30, hitting the gym and all that. I stayed in bed until 8:15, finally getting out of bed, making coffee, cereal and jumping into the shower. I neglected to mention yesterday how I had gotten a phone call from an agency that I’ve been signed up with for about five years.

They had an offer, to start on Thursday, a temp to perm job for a hedge fund. I mentioned that I was working already but in retail and looking to get out. The woman who called, named Emily understood my reluctance to leave something permanent (and hellish) to go to something that was merely a temporary job.

And I gave the line that I wanted to give some sort of notice to Marcus and Calvin since they’re just so bitchin’. Of course, if I was offered really good gig, I would leave the cigar shop in an instant and never return unlike Raymond who was at the shop again. I mentioned to him that I see him more now than I did when he was working there.

It was a sluggish day today, not much in sales although Calvin had done a few thousand more than me, and I didn’t even reach a thousand. Oh boo hoo. I went to the Moon Rock Diner again for lunch and finished last week’s New Yorker and started this week’s issue.

Then a walk to the internet café where I checked email and updated my Facebook status. Not much to report on either front but that was alright.

It was Calvin and Sean for the second half of the day, Calvin being out tomorrow made it seem like a vacation of sorts. Nature does not abhor this vacuum. And it continues to snow outside, crazy winds whipping about.

It would be nice to have a snow day tomorrow but it seems to be unlikely. Plus with Calvin being out tomorrow who really cares? It should be an easy day. Marcus was in Florida on Monday and Tuesday and has been having difficulty getting back to the New York metropolitan area and with all the snow falling now, who knows if he’ll make it in tomorrow? He could still be in Bimini.

Both Jersey City and Union City are hidden by the snow storm and that’s how I like it, at least right now I do.

A million inches. That’s all I ask for. Perhaps in a million years.

And Bill is feeling a bit under the weather.

I Love Paris

A day off. And it’s been a productive day again. Slept fairly well last night, had dreams that I remember. One dream featured my mother and it was a nice feeling to see her again. That dream either involved or preceded a dream that involved a varsity jacket that had NUTS written on the back.

I’m not sure if that meant a scrotum or in fact something to do with the state of mind. Then at some point after that I had an itchy palm which to superstitious folk (which I am sometimes) means that I will be coming into some money.

I eventually woke up around the usual time to the sound of Barry White singing ‘You’re My First, My Last, My Everything’ which I took to be a good omen since Barry White and I were both born on September 12.

Bill took the day off since he was feeling exhausted and in need of a rest. I puttered about as usual making some coffee, pouring some cereal and showering and shaving. I had time to get myself ready to head out, and Bill eventually got out of bed to offer his support once again.

I got it together and though I couldn’t find the suit that I wanted to wear (superstition again) I did find another suit that did the job just as well. I wore a belt instead of the braces I usually wear. I thought the braces would have been a bit much, a bit overreaching for a job interview, even though it was for an investment institution.

I thought it would be best to dress like I was in an office support position rather than dressing like an investment banker. Braces make people think ‘stock broker’ or ‘investment banker’ so for an administrative position a belt was in order.

There was a slight snow storm outside as I walked to the Path train, heading to the World Trade Center stop. Of course I was crazy early so I decided to stop by Century 21 and looked at some clothes to kill some time. I still was early after that, but only five minutes early.

I made it to the building and checked in with security. A phone call was made to the woman I was supposed to meet, Shirley. Unfortunately Shirley was unavailable and her voice mail was reached. I of course panicked a bit, but thankfully, having had half a tablet of Xanax it wasn’t so bad.

I hung around for a few minutes until the security guard called me back, Shirley contacted him and I was granted access to the 14th floor. On the 14th floor was a security guard who escorted me to the 12th floor, where I was shown to a conference room overlooking the Hudson River.

It was an impressive sight, a snowstorm was going on and I saw various boats and tug boats going up and down the river. I was tempted to take a photograph of the view but decided against it. This was a serious job I was after and no artsy shenanigans were to be had.

Shirley came in and we seemed to hit it off quite nicely. They need to fill this job which is basically a job that I have done for the past 10 years and did an exceptional job I might add. After a few minutes with Shirley, I met Nelson, who if I get the job, I would be working with.

All around it was a 45 minute interview. Thanks to the Xanax I don’t think I had any scent of desperation on me. Shirley and I talked some more, she showed me the offices as she walked me to the door. I think it was a good sign, for why would they show someone the office to someone who had no chance for the position?

It had basically stopped snowing as I headed back to the Path train, and I stopped in Century 21 and picked up some nice cufflinks as a present for Bill. Back in Hoboken, the Path from Hoboken to the World Trade Center is about a 15 minute ride.

I stopped by the Guitar Bar and picked up some cigars that I had shipped last week. Calvin had something in the order which made me think that was why he was being relatively kind for the past few days.

When I give Calvin the cigars tomorrow when I return, I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes back to being a dick again. But that’s then and not now so as far as I’m concerned the cigar shop simply does not exist for me. It would be nice to get a Monday through Friday job again. I liked the people I met today and I hope they liked me.

Also talked with Harpy for a bit as well as a nice talk with my dear friend Billie in DC today. Billie’s still looking for a job, he’s been out of work longer than I have. I wish him the very best in the world, he’s my chocolate sister and I love him very much.

I Love My Wife

Well it was back to work for me today, much like yesterday. But I didn’t write yesterday and it felt like a day off creatively. Woke up this morning to a temperature outside of 6°.

Yesterday was better than Saturday. No Calvin in the house, just the Bradley who wasn’t brain dead yesterday and Sean.

And it was a fun day, not so bad at all. It went by rather quickly. I had lunch with Bill and Margaret. Margaret is an old friend of Bill’s and could have been the woman Bill married if Bill wasn’t gay. She’s a reverend doctor who lives in Atlanta with her husband Laurent.

Bill and I attended their wedding in 2005. While I waited for Bill and Margaret it felt like back in the day when I would wait for my brother Frank to show up and pick me up so we could go to Maxwells together.

Frank is always terribly late and I always would give him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that perhaps that night would be the night that he would be on time. But he wouldn’t be on time and I would wait getting stressed out and tied up in knots.

Bill and Margaret weren’t as late as Frank would be, but still I would have a flashback to that familiar anxiety of 29 years ago. The three of us, Bill, Margaret and I went to the Moon Rock diner, which is now officially my favorite diner, at least in midtown.

Not for the ambience or the cuisine, it’s basic diner fare but because it’s never crowded when I go and I can sit in a booth and do some reading as I wait for my food. And it was a nice time, catching up under the watchful eye of the clock. The Bradley and Sean were cool if I was a little late in returning to the cigar shop.

I’m almost always on time anyhow, so perhaps a grace period of 30 minutes would make up for all the times that I wasn’t late. The rest of the day went smoothly. The Bradley and I started at the same time and to decide when to close I thought we would use a coin toss and when I asked the Bradley if he wanted to close, he said we should toss a coin.

I had the coin, he called heads and it came up tails. That meant I was able to leave about 10 minutes before he did. I made it home and Bill greeted me at the door with slices of pizza from Grimaldi’s. The Jets/Steelers game was on and Bill was into it. Me, not so much.

I did have a new wireless antenna for the old Rand-enstein computer. And of course I couldn’t work it out by myself, I needed Bill’s expertise in putting it all together. And he did after a while, while I sulked about reading and chatting on the phone.

Bill figured it out after an hour and sadly for Bill, the Jets lost the game. I didn’t provide much support or solace. I sort of mocked the whole scenario which in hindsight was cruel. I apologized for it today and Bill said it didn’t matter, asking me to imagine how he would he would be if the Jets won.

He had a point. He would have been bouncing off the walls. So perhaps it’s better this way. Plus there’s always next year. Or the year after that.

I’m off tomorrow and an interview is scheduled for the morning. Any good thoughts and vibrations are welcome and would certainly be appreciated not just by me but by Bill as well.

I Like to Lead When I Dance

Today was a day from hell. Not THE day from hell, but hellish nonetheless. It started out with me in bed, around 8:00 wondering why Bill was still in bed. Wasn’t he supposed to be at work? I nudged him and asked him why he was still here and he responded that it was Saturday.

This is how my life is. I have no idea what day it is most of the time. When people tell me to have a good weekend it takes a lot of strength not to pop them in the mouth no matter how good their intentions may be.

I made arrangements to meet up with Rand in the 20 degree chill to hand off a Netgear adapter. He lent it to me a while back and the one he had is broken, so he needed his back. That was no problem and Rand offered to wait with me for the 10:30 bus which as usual would arrive after the 10:50 bus.

Every fucking Saturday this happens. I know if I got to the bus stop after 10:30, the 10:30 bus would show up and I would miss it. Rand was kind enough to stay long enough before I sent him off just in time for him to suggest that he was going to take off anyway.

And of course since the bus was late or missing there were more people, standing room only after a few stops. I sat on a 2 person bench, made enough room for someone to sit next to me, but they wouldn’t. So I made the most of it and spread out while people stood all around me. I made the effort, they refused it, and so I got comfortable.

Got to the cigar shop a bit late, but I phoned ahead letting them know that I would be late. Brain dead answered the phone trying to be clever and passed along the word that I would be late and in by noon. And thanks to the careless planning, there were 3 full timers and Sean.

Me, Brain dead and Calvin. Calvin took off on Tuesday to see Prince and since he didn’t want to miss a day of work, made himself useless. Instead of a laid back day if laid back is the proper phrase, it was generally uptight.

No need to have a boss around today, but there he was. Things didn’t go well at all. I wanted to take lunch at 4:00 but Sean who agreed to take lunch at 3:00 decided to take lunch at 4:00 since Calvin figured it might get very busy. It wasn’t busy at all.

Jeez I can’t stand working there. Had a brief chat with Annemarie, the usual chat of how I hate working where I am working. She’s doing fine by the way, all things considered like her car being broken into the other morning.

Brain dead left at 7:30 and Calvin should have left as well but a customer came in with homemade wine and Calvin couldn’t resist, plus Calvin planned on staying later and having a cigar before heading home to wife and kid. One of the customers asked if he could play his iPod and so it was listening to someone else’s music most of the day.

Dreadful for me, good for the customer and ignored by most everyone else. It made a slow afternoon even slower. Music can help things go faster and smoother at least for me and when its music I am not particularly in the mood for, I am in hell.

Don’t get me started about jazz since I generally abhor it. Maybe if it’s performed live I might enjoy it, but generally it’s a bore. And guess what’s usually played at the store?

I also got some bitter news from Harpy but I won’t write about it here but my thoughts are in his generally direction, not for him but for his lady love.

And I neglected to mention that I heard from Casey Chasm yesterday. He’s doing OK, Madam Chasm is pregnant with their second child and Casey will be in Afghanistan later this year.

Love and good wishes to all concerned and especially Bill who greeted me with open arms when I came home like he said he was going to do.

This was written last night but I could not post due to server problems in Bala Cynwyd.

and since today is Sunday, I will not be posting later.

I Like the Sunrise

Just got home from day one of a four day stint working in the cigar shop. It was an interesting day to say the least. First thing, which happens to be the latest thing, Keith Olbermann’s last show was tonight. All of a sudden, at the end of the show he announced that it is no more.

I found out when I checked my email a few minutes ago from the LA Times and the New York Times. No explanation given. Perhaps over the weekend, or at least next week, if ever. It will be explained at some point, that’s for sure.

Back at the cigar shop, all seemed well. Today was payday and Calvin was extra nice, wanting for me to buy a box of cigars and ship them to Hoboken. He would like to buy some cigars and ship them with mine.

So he buttered me up, I relented and made him pay for shipping. It’s cheaper to buy cigars in New York and ship them to New Jersey since interstate commerce cannot be taxed. I save a ton of money doing so.

After getting all that together, I received a phone call from the guy who called me earlier in the week. An interview has been set up for next Tuesday. There’s an online application I have to fill out which I haven’t checked yet and I will once I am done writing this here blog entry tonight. I’m trying to not let my hope get out of control.

The day proceeded as it often does, slowly and the man cave back room was filled with smoke. Calvin had his two hour lunch and I manned the front of the store while he smoked in the back room. I don’t mind Calvin taking a two hour lunch. He usually comes back happy and he’s out of my hair during that time.

Another phone call, from someone who had come across my resume online. The called, named Mike noted that I had sales experience on the resume, 7.5 months of sales experience selling cigars. Mike asked if I was interested in becoming a stock broker and I told him that I was not interested. That call ended quite quickly.

I had a good lunch at what is becoming my favorite diner, the Moon Rock, next to what used to be A&R Studios, then Le Bar Bat and now it’s Providence. The food is good, they seat me in a booth where I can sit and read and there is hardly anyone there when I am there.

After that it was a 15 minute visit at the internet computer bank nestled in the back of Universal News. The new guy, Fred was in when I returned from lunch and he was helping Calvin unpack boxes that had just come in. A long day finally came to an end. Fred left a few minutes early so he could catch a train home and I closed up the shop.

Uneventful rides home, and now here I sit, Bill a few feet behind me and Bill Maher and company (including Rachel Maddow who has no idea what happened with Keith Olbermann) pour forth from the television. Another day of work tomorrow, day 2.

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Baby you can never look me in the eye, yeah you buckle with the weight of the words. Stop draggin’ my, stop draggin’ my, stop draggin’ my heart around. Just a song that popped into my head from years ago.

Flew in the face of my so called punk orthodoxy it did. It was a shaky orthodoxy to begin with. I was pretty much a pop music kid growing up, living so close to the WABC radio tower in Lodi that my neighbors, the Williams family had the radio transmission coming through on their phone line.

Which in my mind proved to me what a cool family the Williams family were. I didn’t know until years later that they were just as fucked up as any other family on Riverview Avenue. I thought Marge Williams was a beautiful modern woman unfortunately married to a boor and a bully.

I always think of Vanessa Redgrave as Guinevere in Camelot when I think of Mrs. Williams. The first and perhaps only time I saw Camelot was at 7 Riverview, watching it with Scott and Mrs. Williams as Mrs. Williams sang along with Vanessa Redgrave.

I saw part of Camelot on Turner Classic Movies the other night, and unfortunately it wasn’t the part that I remembered watching all those years ago. Sometimes when I think of the crappy job that I have right now, I think of Mrs. Williams and how she had to hold down 2 jobs when she and the bully separated and eventually divorced.

On Sunday mornings after mass, that is while my family still went to mass, we would sometimes go to the Saddle Brook bakery where Mrs. Williams worked behind the counter, almost always putting a few extra crullers or rolls in the bag with a wink.

Mrs. Williams also dabbled in art, with a bust of her eldest daughter Suzanne that was on the shelf in their finished basement. Our basement was never finished and only cleaned once every decade. I thought about the box of boots that used to be on the right at the bottom of the basement stairs. We were sloppy but we were relatively happy mostly.

I know that Mrs. Williams was greatly upset when my mother died suddenly on Mother’s Day in 1991 and I was very upset to learn of Mrs. Williams passing years later. I recall one night when my parents were out somewhere, probably at their watering hole, with Annemarie, Brian and myself at home.

Annemarie wound up stepping on a pencil and Brian and I were terrified that Annemarie would die of lead poisoning. We didn’t know what to do or who to call, but we did know not to call the watering hole. So we called 845-8435 and Mrs. Williams came rushing over, reassuring crying Brian and myself that Annemarie was not about to die of lead poisoning.

After all I didn’t die of lead poisoning when Brian threw a pencil which hit me dead center in my forehead, leaving a bluish grey dot that could be seen for a number of years.

It was another time though, most everyone has moved from that neighborhood. Some kids I grew up with passed away, most of the grown-ups passed away. The neighborhood hasn’t changed much at all since I had last been there but the residents have moved on, the kids moved out.

It’s now a two way street, and a closed off street at that. No more easy access to Route 80 or Essex Street. The Bellos, Connelly’s, Serpone’s, Merlino’s, Benkovitch’s, Marge Vander Bruck, among others, all gone. That’s the way things are I guess, that’s how it’s supposed to be.

A sawed off piece of a tree which seemed to grow around a telephone/electric wire

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Another long day. Another half a tablet of Xanax. It wasn’t snowing or raining today at least. It was a balmy 40 degree something or other. Once again I dragged myself out of bed and got myself together, taking my sweet time which still got me to work on time, if not a little earlier.

It was Calvin and Marcus. Marcus was well enough to come in and Calvin recovered from the Prince concert he attended with the missus. My dear friend Lovely Rita was there and I would love to hear what she had to say about it. Her opinion is important to me. Most everyone else, I really don’t care.

It was a long day for me. Just me and Calvin and though he had his usual 2 hour lunch leaving me alone mostly it was difficult to get through the day. I didn’t have a chance to go outside today until about 4:30 which is when I went to Universal News which has internet access, $2.00 for 10 minutes.

Those 10 minutes allow me to check and delete email, and see if any jobs that I applied to lately have gotten back to me. Mostly they hadn’t. I sent an email to the guy I spoke to yesterday, stating that I didn’t want to be a bother but I was trying to set up my schedule for tomorrow which is a day off for me. No response so a few hours later I called and left a voicemail saying the same thing basically.

No response then either. I started falling into despondency, thinking that I had so much hope for this slim chance of a new job and it felt like the slim chance was getting slimmer and slimmer. I mentioned it to Bill and he felt that contacting this guy two times seemed desperate. But I was desperate. I am desperate. I really want to be out of the cigar shop as soon as possible.

Calvin had punished me somewhat this afternoon. Last Friday he mentioned to me, to tell everyone that we need to do a comprehensive inventory and order some cigars that we need. And I did mention it to my co-workers and nothing was done.

Today, Calvin came up to me and told me Marcus had chewed him out about this and so it was up to me to do this comprehensive inventory. One catch though and I had to tell Calvin, I don’t know how to do a comprehensive inventory.

He gave me a quick rundown on what to do and I was in the humidor for over an hour, not doing sales, just counting boxes, which accounted for Calvin doing about $2,250 in sales and me having sales of about $300.00. Of course I will be talked to about how my sales are quite low.

It certainly not the same cigar shop when I started in June 2010. Ron is gone as is Dave. That’s Don and Raymond for those playing at home.

Now I am home, Bill just loaded my computer with all the latest Microsoft products that he got via work for about $20.00. I’m happy with it and thanked Bill for his work. That’s it for now, I’m tired.

this picture was taken with the camera resting on top of my head.

I Hear a Rhapsody

And it was back to work for me today. And I went reluctantly. I took 2 melatonin tablets last night and had a really restful sleep, including a dream where I was planning on traveling to Africa, and was worried about Somali pirates even though I wasn’t going anywhere near Somalia.

I got up this morning, made some coffee and went back to sleep for a few more minutes. It was pouring rain and sleeting outside with ice covering sidewalks making walking somewhat difficult and slow. I took my time, getting ready before I headed out into all that mess. Coffee and cereal after a shower and a shave. Soon I was out in the slosh, walking carefully up to Washington Street.

I walked by Mr. L’s. They took Tony off of Tuesdays so now he only cuts hair on Monday and Saturday. According to Tony it was all orchestrated by his son Nick, but I think Nick is trying to ease Tony out ever since he fell a few months ago and hasn’t completely recovered. In any event, the day where I have to find a different barber will be somewhere down the line.

I waited in the rain for the bus, carrying Bill’s boots in a plastic bag. For some reason he’d forgotten the boots and was going to need them tonight. I didn’t mind bringing them in for Bill. He’s been so great, so supportive for me, how could I not help him out? It’s love baby. Nothing but love love love.

As I waited for Bill to come down from his office I got a phone call. It was a 330 area code and it was in response to a resume I had sent out earlier. The office was in Colorado but the job was downtown for a position I feel I am uniquely suited for.

The phone call was brief but it went well and I told the caller that I would be available on Thursday for an interview if that would be possible. I am off on Thursday and I hope I can set something up tomorrow.

I got to the cigar shop a little late but not caring about it. I was bound to be late what with the weather and all. Marcus was out sick and so it was me and the Bradley. Calvin was out today since he and his wife were going to see Prince, deciding to do so after my glowing review last month.

It was a weird day. Yesterday the back room man cave was shut down due to a ventilation problem and it hadn’t been corrected yet. The HVAC people were supposed to be in around 8:30 this morning, they didn’t arrive until 12:30. And the second cash register was broken down due to a power strip problem.

Not much money was made today. The regulars stayed away in droves, the ones who did show up were quite upset with the fact that they couldn’t smoke their cigars in the man cave, walking out dejected. It made for a long day. I wound up working with Sean and the Bradley and we all got along fine.

I forgot to write about the bus ride in this morning. I was sitting behind Linda Weinstein who was using the bus as her office, making arrangements and planning Ray’s memorial service, scheduled for the first weekend in February. “Ray’s a bigger pain in the ass now that he’s dead than he was when he was alive!”

I thought about offering her my resume but thought again and decided not to.

I Haven’t Time to Be a Millionaire

A day off which happened to coincide with many others (but not all) having off for Martin Luther King’s birthday, or the recognition of it as a Federal holiday. And it was a good day. I went to bed earlier than usual last night after watching the Golden Globes with Bill on TV.

We both enjoyed the telecast, thought Ricky Gervais was pretty funny with his accurate putdowns on Hollywood and the star system. I watched the second episode of Shameless last night after Bill had gone to bed. But there was so much going on in the episode I couldn’t keep up and went to bed halfway through, around 12:30.

I slept fairly well, Bill get up this morning around 5:00. He was off to Philadelphia on his day off to meet some people in a casting agency and was on a Greyhound bus around 6:30. I was up and about at my usual time, 8-ish and set about starting my day. Shower, coffee before heading out to the grocery store.

I walked by Mr. L’s barber shop on my way to the supermarket. Tony my barber was cutting someone’s hair so I would have to wait until later to get my hair cut. Came home and had a nice breakfast and started my laundry.

Plenty of clothes to wash so I was busy. After the washing was done I headed out once again and walked to the barber shop where Tony was available. He was sitting watching an old movie on Turner Classic Movies with another bloke who turned out to be Joe Pantoliano.

I didn’t let on that I knew who he was and let him watch the movie undisturbed while Tony set about cutting my hair. Soon other customers came in and Joe Pantoliano made his way out without anyone paying him much notice. He was bundled up somewhat and also wearing sunglasses.

Another customer and I started talking about the current situation. He used to work at JP Morgan Chase and now he’s an engineer for the MTA. I explained that I was an office manager for an investment bank which went belly up and now I sell cigars and expensive pens.

I think he was looking for sympathy to which I replied that he was making more money than I am, mentioning that I took a 20 thousand dollar pay cut where he is still making a lot more money than I am. He does have a Master’s degree which he pointed out. He was trying to blame the economic climate on government being out of control, and I agreed that it was out of control and has been for the past 10 years.

He wasn’t expecting to hear that, nor was my mentioning that invading Iraq which cost billions of dollars helped put us where we are now. And also the deregulation of the banks which the right wing (who I did not mention by name) had been working on since the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I ended it with that and came home looking rather snappy with my hair nicely trimmed.

Hadn’t gotten a haircut since November I think and it was getting to be unmanageable. Came home and ran into Stine who told me she was making her excellent meat sauce and would make me a package when she was done.

When she was done and Julio came home, she invited me to have dinner with them. Alexander was wonderful as usual, sometimes putting on a show for me, fake laughter and all that. He does love being the center of attention and does not hesitate to scream my name to get my attention.

A wonderful spaghetti dinner with Stine, Julio and Alexander, some wine and some grapes for dessert. Alexander was getting sleepy when I made my way back upstairs, soon after Bill had come home. Now it’s now and here I am, a container of meat sauce in the fridge and me trying not to think about going to work tomorrow.

Bill and I are watching Shameless and William H Macy reminds me of someone.

I Have Dreamed

Bill and I just listened to The Hallelujah Chorus by the Roches. We sang our own version of it a few minutes ago. It was quite funny and ended with the both of us laughing quite a bit. Bill surprised me tonight, getting on the same bus that I was on at the bus terminal.

It was great to see him, the perfect end to a hum drum day. And the hum drum day started with the usual feeling of dread. Not wanting to go, but keeping in mind that it isn’t so bad, I would not have to deal with Calvin for four days.

He was off today and tomorrow, I’m off on Monday and Calvin is off on Tuesday. He’s going to see Prince, after the glowing review I gave last month after seeing Prince at Madison Square Garden with RoDa.

One of the things Calvin mentioned yesterday was that the staff spends too much time on the internet. So today I did not go online at the cigar shop. Neither did the Bradley or Sean. We were pretty good about that. It was a long day.

Yesterday we basically cleaned the shop, making sure everything had a price on it, as well as cleaning all glass surfaces. We do that a lot, cleaning the shop so that the cleaning woman has an easy time of it when she comes in for her 90 minutes of cleaning, Monday through Friday.

I did a lot of pacing on the floor, really. I should have been wearing a pedometer to see how many miles I accrue each day. And once again, former employee Don came into the cigar shop. He was in yesterday and left his scarf behind. Perhaps it was a Freudian thing, intentionally leaving it behind for a return visit, a ‘round two’ as it is sometimes called by former staffers. The present staff doesn’t talk like that.

And it was also the second day I had fore gone the free cigar from the owners of the cigar shop. It’s one of the perks of working there but it really doesn’t float my boat anymore. The whole experience of working at the cigar shop leaves a bad taste in my mouth and it isn’t from smoking cigars.

The cigars I enjoy are looked down upon by cigar snobs as being cardboard, despite the fact that this ‘cardboard’ pays the bills since more ‘cardboard’ cigars are sold than the top shelf cigars generally approved and given high ratings by the horrid Cigar Aficionado magazine. Lately it’s been such a drag dealing with Calvin and Marcus that I would rather just forget the whole thing.

Today since I was off the internet at the cigar shop, I went to an internet café and checked my emails, some job offers, and some red herrings. It wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be. $2.00 for 10 minutes and I was done with what I wanted to do and went back to work for more pacing and cleaning glass surfaces.

Now I’m home, one more day of work then a day off, which of course can’t get here fast enough and will likely be over before I know it.

Not writing Sunday!

I Have But One Heart

Well I’ve been working at the goddamned cigar shop since June 1. Today is January 14 and it was probably the worst day I’ve had so far. I started out the day, sleeping in later, not getting out of bed until 9:00. I was up at 8:30 and made coffee and poured my cereal and went back to bed.

The alarm clock was still on when I went back to sleep, and I didn’t get out of bed when Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes came on, I got out of bed when the Rolling Stones Get Off of My Cloud came on. I usually like to have 2 hours to take my time but figured I really only needed an hour this morning.

I was in a decent mood, not totally exuberant, but had a good attitude. I had it together and walked out the building at 10:15. Walked up to Washington Street, bought a Mega Millions ticket and waited for the bus as I talked to Bill on the phone.

I also ran into Linda, a nice woman who used to work at the supermarket and later Roda as I waited for the bus. A nice way to start the day, and helped put me into a better mood.

When I left the cigar shop on Wednesday night I had a feeling something was up, and today I found out what was up. Apparently my sales for December were disappointing. I only sold $50,000.00 worth of items in December whereas Calvin sold $76,000.00 and the Bradley sold about $72,000.00. They were terribly disappointed with my numbers.

Calvin feigned concern, asking me if there was something wrong, if there was something I wanted to talk about. I had nothing to talk about except to mention that it was merely the luck of the draw. I get a customer that comes in, and then the Bradley gets the next customer and so on and so on with Calvin grabbing as many big ticket sales that he could get.

He does have a wife and kid to support on the salary of an assistant manager, so his grabs could be ignored. Calvin didn’t really have a reply to my luck of the draw comment and neither Calvin nor Marcus seem to realize that there is a recession going on, and that people aren’t spending thousands of dollars on humidors like they used to previous years.

No, they just think that everything is the same as it used to be and if sales are off it must be because of me, not because people aren’t spending money like they used to. So that’s how my day started. I decided not to get upset.

I figured my time at the cigar shop isn’t going to last much longer, resumes are still going out daily. I know that’s how last year started but I am still trying to maintain my positive mental attitude. I was pretty quiet most of the day, staying out of conversations and opting to be by myself whenever possible.

Calvin spent most of the afternoon drinking, which is how most every afternoon Calvin has spent since I’ve been working there. My time with Calvin ended today with me selling a $500.00 pen. The item number wasn’t coming up in the computer, the message saying the item was inactive.

Calvin was helping me trying to find the box for the $500.00 pen and I mentioned that it was listed as inactive. The customer had no idea what I was talking about until Calvin came over and edged me out of the way and entered the pen as a ‘special cigar’.

The customer received a receipt stating that he bought a ‘special cigar’ for $500.00. The customer left satisfied and Calvin turned on me saying that there was no need to air dirty laundry like an inactive item. He seemed surprised by my reply that the customer didn’t know what was going on until he got behind the register.

Technically Calvin let the cat out of the bag. After another drink Calvin got his shit together and headed home to wife and kid, not shaking everyone’s hand like he always does. I’m glad to be out of there and will be even gladder when I am finally out of there for good.

And I find it hard to reason that Don and Raymond hung out at the cigar shop for a few hours. You can bet that once I am gone from the cigar shop, I am g-o-n-e. Never again to grace the floor of the cigar shop with the bottom of my shoe.

I Hadn’t Anyone Till You

A day off again and it’s been quite nice so far. I slept in, later than I expected but figured why not? I had nowhere to go and no one to see. Actually I did have places to go and there were people to see.

Last night after writing I watched The Great Ziegfeld. I had never seen it before and it was entertaining. Big sets, William Powell, Fanny Brice and stage and dance numbers that I thought were choreographed by Busby Berkeley. Very elaborate scenes were created by Seymour Felix.

It’s the type of movie my mother probably loved. Glitz, glamor and Hollywood, or in this case, Hollywood’s version of Broadway. It was quite a long movie on Turner Classic Movies and I didn’t watch the whole thing, opting to go to bed at 1:30.

I didn’t wake up to anything on the radio since the clock radio also had the day off. I roused myself out of bed and showered, made some coffee. On my days off I do like to have eggs for breakfast and that meant I needed to go out and get some eggs. And bagels. And the paper.

On my way out I gathered up the mail I collected for Julio & Stine and dropped it off. I spoke with Julio yesterday and he complained he was sick. Alexander had gotten sick in Denmark as did his grandmother. Some type of flu. They all recovered and Julio had gone to work when I stopped by.

I sat with Stine and Alexander for a little while, while Alexander played with his Play-Doh, making ‘snakes’. His vocabulary has gotten bigger, and his English was very good. According to Stine when he was in Denmark, he spoke nothing but Danish, as he speaks to his mother in her native tongue all the time. When Alexander saw me, he switched to English. And he is still the cute lad.

After leaving Stine & Alexander I walked up to Washington Street, got the paper, some bagels and then it was off to the bibliothèque. I picked up the new LCD Soundsystem CD and returned Florence and the Machine’s last disc. Also picked up Inglorious Basterds on DVD which I had seen already and figured I might watch it again.

The other night I watched most of The Book of Eli which was incredibly lackluster. I am a sucker for apocalyptic movies and this one was made for suckers. Mila Kunis was the best thing in it. There is no one to root for in the movie, except perhaps the nuclear war that occurred before I tuned in.

I just watched Hot Tub Time Machine since I am also an occasional sucker for dumb, low brow movies and this certainly was dumb and low brow with just a few laughs thrown in. Maybe there were more than a few laughs but if they occurred, they happened when I was out of the room making dinner since I had lost interest in the movie midway through.

A quiet night, Bill doing a reading in midtown. I just had dinner and don’t plan on doing much of anything for the rest of the night. A simple plan for a simple man.

I Had the Craziest Dream

Yes I am tired. Yes I went to work today. Yes it snowed quite a bit last night. Not enough for the NJ Transit system to stop running, not enough to slow down the bus and train schedules. I took my time getting ready for work, walking to the bus stop.

The bus filled up enough with what seemed to be people like me who did not want to go to work today. That was one of the rare times where I identify with the other riders. Most of the time I don’t like them, I don’t care for them and think they’re stupid.

Sometimes it seems like I am on a bus tour to Bala Cynwyd.

A song popped into my head as I rode the bus, and I did my best to duplicate the song in a voice message to Bill’s iPhone. He didn’t know what song it was but I eventually figured it out with his help, the song being Birdland by Weather Report.

I thought of Stanley Siegel whom had Birdland as his theme song for his talk show I think in the 1970’s. That made me think of a major storm in maybe 1975, things shut down, my father not going to work. Me and himself, trekking in the snow to the Lodi A&P to get who knows what. I think my mother was working.

My sister in law Elaine made an appearance, living a block or so away with Frank on Main Street. She gave me a book about the Who which I thought was cool. I more than likely had something to eat before heading out with a sled and heading down Gunther Avenue and wiping out before spilling onto Main Street.

Wilson Street was more of a daredevil street, a steeper hill and a few hills where we would literally go flying a few feet in the air.

I just had a thought, if there were any kids in that neighborhood and if so, do they take their sleds down those hills. It seemed like a personal hill for me and my friends, no other kids from other neighborhoods would go sledding down Gunther Avenue or Wilson Street.

Such carefree times.

Now I commute into the city to a job I don’t particularly care for, no hills for sledding anymore. It was a long day at the cigar shop. Not much foot traffic in the cigar shop area. A lot of people either had the day off or took the day off, opting not to bother with the frozen mess.

It was Calvin and I mostly, with Sean coming in mid-afternoon. I decided to treat myself, a reward for making it in. I went to Whole Foods and had a Shepard’s Pie. I never had it before but it had loomed in my mental menu for the past few days.

I had to find where they made hot foods and took a chance and got a Shepard’s Pie. I was wary since I never had one before and if I didn’t like it, then I would have thrown good money away. But I bought it, and I liked it and will probably have it again.

It certainly was a hearty meal. I had an early lunch and 6 hours later, I was still satisfied with what I had for lunch.



I Guess I’ll Have to Dream the Rest

The snow is falling. A major storm is here. Or at least the hype regarding a major storm is here. From the Ohio Valley and from the south two fronts approach earning the moniker of Nor’easter. I thought that was when a storm approached from the north east but I guess in this case it’s when a storm is heading to the north east.

I woke up to the sound of local weatherman Mr. G saying on CBS FM that if you don’t have to go out tomorrow then don’t. I mentioned this to Calvin when I got to work to which Calvin replied that Mr. G is a fool since he wears a wig. Such biting wit.

I am hoping that I have a snow day tomorrow. I have off on Thursday and 2 days off in a row would be very nice. Of course it all depends on what happens in the morning. Most of the local governments caught a lot of flak when the last snowstorm hit around Christmas day and are doing their best not to let that happen again.

There is still snow on the ground from 2 weeks ago and this storm is expected to add 12 to 14 inches on top of that. If I do have to go in tomorrow and it does seem likely, it will probably be a long and quiet day since the snow is not supposed to stop falling until sometime tomorrow afternoon. I won’t know anything until tomorrow morning.

Today was another long day. Time has been moving quite slowly. I got a phone call from a recruiter who offered me a temp to perm job in Exchange Place, Jersey City starting tomorrow. Of course I couldn’t take the job. I mentioned I would like to give some sort of notice at the cigar shop.

Still it was nice to be thought of. It was a bitter cold day and I received a crap cigar from a cigar salesman that Calvin insisted I smoke. He called it homework. It was from a company that has a reputation as being top shelf but it’s simply overrated. And overpriced.

I decided to go to a local diner for lunch today just to get out of the cigar shop. It was good to get out and I like the diner. I think I will be going there more often. It’s close enough and the price of a burger deluxe in Manhattan is about the same as it is in Hoboken and North Jersey.

I made it back to the cigar shop to be able to snag a seat in the back room man cave and smoke some of the free cigar. It was as lackluster as I expected. I didn’t finish it and went back to work. The man cave back room was quite full again. Most of the guys were seeking refuge from the cold and some were doing work on their lap tops since they can’t smoke at home.

That’s it for me. Once again I hope tomorrow is a snow day.


I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan

Back to work for me today. I think I have more problems with work when I’m not there. More likely when I am going to work, or getting ready to go to work. And as usual as I slept I did not want to get out of bed, I kept hitting the snooze button as often as possible.

Bill left for work later than usual which threw off my game. I can’t blame him. He didn’t want to get out of bed either. I did eventually get out of bed and had a shower, made some coffee and had a bowl of cereal. I still did not want to go to work.

I checked my emails and didn’t see anything worth checking out job wise. I did notice the job I came thisclose to getting in November/December was still open. That saddened me somewhat and I thought about sending my resume directly to the woman I initially met.

Bill figures I have nothing to lose and that I should include a note of apology in a cover letter. I have revamped my resume and not it’s totally honest. I guess that if they wanted me so much and if Greg Stevens letter was ‘all that’ maybe they would reconsider and give me a second chance. I’ve got nothing to lose (except hopefully a job in retail).

Bill is currently on the phone with Hyman Gross who has resurfaced after a two week stint in a hospital in Springfield MA. I think he’s going to have a short stay in a home in Manhattan. That’s somewhat good news. I guess I will be seeing him and riding the bus with him soon enough.

Work was slow once again. We’re officially in the doldrums. Big sales are over, and neck bones like Car Door Wet Nap did not come in today thankfully. I did sit in the back and enjoyed a cigar during my lunch hour. It wasn’t too crowded so I was able to relax and read about Neil Young in the latest Mojo magazine.

I also played a playlist titled Breaking In My Heart, 80 songs, and 6 hours of music. My competition for playing music is the Bradley who has been taken off life support and is breathing on his own. He plays things that he likes whereas I act like a DJ and play things that I think the customers might enjoy without beating them over the head.

Something new and something old all mixed together with few complaints. A few customers can tell when the music that is playing has been programmed by me.

It was yet another long day at the cigar shop, not too many customers. Two more days of work, then off on Thursday. Another snow storm is heading our way, from the south where Atlanta and Athens GA were hit by 10 to 12 inches of snow.

Who knows what will happen? It’s supposed to start tomorrow night and continue into Wednesday morning. I of course am hoping for another snow day but being realistic that I will have to go into work anyway.

I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues

Today is Sunday which means yesterday was Saturday. I worked yesterday, today I have off. It’s been a productive day, cleaning the apartment, which Bill started yesterday. Perhaps if we both work in tandem we will have a really clean apartment. But for today we will settle for functional.

Work was long and slow yesterday and I did not want to go in. My resolve to get out of this retail circus remains strong. I waited for about 30 minutes in the cold for the 10:30 bus which did not arrive until 10:50.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to Chaz’ party that night. I wasn’t feeling on top of my game and I was staring down the barrel of a 10 hour shift. I texted Chaz letting him know I wasn’t sure and also texted Rand with the same message.

Bill was going to be driving a bus to Atlantic City and I also didn’t feel like going by myself. As things turned out, Atlantic City had a big snowstorm and so bus trips down there were canceled. So Bill stayed home and cleaned the apartment while I watched the clock move ever so slowly from 11:30 AM to 9:30 PM.

Somewhere in the middle of that I read online of the shooting of the congresswoman in Arizona, as well as the murder of a 9 year old girl, a federal judge and four other people. It was terribly sad and I didn’t know how bad it was since the cigar smokers in the man cave would rather watch college football on the TV than watch the events as they unfold.

Of course if they did watch the news, it would be the same regurgitated mess repeated over and over. It was reported that Rep. Giffords was shot in the head and had died, but then another report came online saying that she was not dead, just in intensive care.

And the latest is that she has been able to respond to simple questions from her doctors. It’s been a sad story all around, for the victims, their families and for the United States overall.

The work day continued on, working with Calvin and Sean. Sean helps me out a lot with sales, usually ringing things up on my register so that I get more of that 1/3 of 1% commission. But Calvin caught on and made sure than any 3 figure sales that Sean was about to complete were done on Calvin’s register. Calvin is the boss you see and doesn’t do much of anything for Sean except for threatening him, whereas I usually buy Sean food, like a burger or some pizza.

I do feel pity for Calvin, for here he is an assistant manager with a wife and kid to support and I really don’t mind him getting whatever commission happens. It would be nice if I got that 1/3 of 1%, but I’m not going to sweat it. And I’m sure Calvin gets more than 1/3 of 1% anyhow.

Calvin split at his appointed hour and it was Sean and myself for the remainder of the day, or by this time, night. Finally it was time to go.

Bill decided to go to the party and even rented a car so that we wouldn’t be at the mercy of a car service to bring us back to Hoboken. I got the latest Mojo & Uncut magazines for Chaz and gave him 2 passes for the American Museum of Natural History.

I met Bill after taking the Path train to Journal Square in Jersey City and we drove up to Chez Chaz. Most of the usual New Year’s crowd was there, Andy, Deborah and Rand & Lisa as well as a few other people that I see year to year but forget their names and too embarrassed to ask after all this time.

It was all rather adult, sitting there, chatting and having beers. Chaz made some excellent vegetarian chili which hit the spot after being outside waiting for Bill to arrive in the black Beetle he rented. Many laughs and stories as well as information about Representative Giffords.

We left around 12:30, giving Rand & Lisa a ride back to Hoboken. I came home to find Bill had done an awful lot of cleaning which impressed me enough to do my share this afternoon.

It’s been a good day, though I did watch a lot of news concerning Tucson, AZ.

Sad sad sad.

Christina Taylor Green 9/11/2001 - 1/8/2011

I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’

It’s Friday for some, for most, for me it’s just another day. It was an alright day overall. I slept well and even though there was a snow storm outside, it didn’t really bother me too much. I took my time getting myself together, a slow easy breakfast, a nice hot shower, a few cups of coffee. I also watched both the Daily Show and the Colbert Report recorded from last night. Both were very good, very funny.

A walk to the bus stop, smoking a nice cigar. It found shelter from the snowfall underneath an awning, away from the other commuters. My bus pulled up and I got on, staring out the window as the snow fell. It was falling hard enough that I couldn’t see the Palisades or make out Troy Towers as we approached the Lincoln Tunnel.

It was the last I saw of the sky for a while since once I got into Manhattan it was off the bus, walk through the bus terminal, down the escalator to the subway and finally getting on a train that dropped me off by the cigar shop.

I was soon inside from the cigar shop after picking up the latest Mojo and Uncut magazines nearby. An annoying fact- in the UK, Uncut features Roxy Music on the cover. Here in the states, it’s the Allman Brothers. I would much rather look at Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay rather than Gregg, Duane & Dickey and the other geezers. But Roxy is unknown mostly in the US, whereas a few dead guys from Macon GA are more recognizable.

The day went alright, Marcus in for half a day, Calvin and the not so brain dead Bradley for the rest of the day. Fred the other part timer came in later in the day. We got along fine, all of us. Many jokes made. Due to the snowstorm, the back room man cave filled up and filled with smoke. It was too crowded to sit back there and enjoy a cigar myself on my lunch hour so I opted out.

By the time it was my lunch it had stopped snowing so I went to a nearby diner and had a decent lunch. It was Friday after all. The afternoon didn’t move as fast as I would have liked but it wasn’t exactly crawling.

Not much was done in the sales department. Calvin left at his appointed hour and left the Bradley and Fred and myself to man the shop. It was going well between the three of us.

Around 8:15 a well-dressed customer came in and I complimented her on her tie. I then asked if there was anything I could do to help her and she mentioned she was interested in lighters. I got the keys and opened the showcase and showed her the lighters, expensive lighters.

But she was vague and said she wanted a thin lighter. So I show her the thin lighters and she’s hemming and hawing as if she was waiting for SAVAK to leave the rest room. I show her some newer lighters, still expensive and this disappoints the shopper, since none of the lighters I show her are gold.

With a heavy sigh she says she’ll take the black lighter. Then she wants to see some cigars so I show her into the humidor. She doesn’t know what she wants, something mild, something light, something expensive.

Nothing was good enough for her so with yet another sigh she eventually decides on 2 cigars which weren’t as expensive as she would have liked, but the really expensive cigar I did show her was too hard for her delicate fingers.

It wasn’t over yet, she wanted to see some expensive ashtrays so I show her what was expensive enough and I try to explain a certain ashtray, built for cigars with an adjustable sliding part for the cigar. Not good enough for this woman, so she decided the cigars and the lighter were enough.

As I ring up Sardar Biglari’s items, she asks if I ever worked retail before. I explained that I did, I worked for Farfetched downtown. She asks if it was a high end shop and I said no, it had the common touch. Then she goes I might want to work on my selling skills in a high end shop.

Then the daughter of a friend of the Shah, this former rug seller, turns on her heel and walks out the door leaving me in hysterics and giving the Bradley and Fred and I enough material to get through the rest of the hour with many jokes to be said about Miss Cardoor Hellolarry.

She proves, though you might have money, you will always be an asshole.

das Frau Sardinaaaarrrgh.

I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)

Man, after being off yesterday, it’s tough to go back to work. And it wasn’t anything major, just one day off, but still, if I had a job I liked, a Monday through Friday job, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be feeling the way I am feeling.

Of course, my mind goes back to Wanker Banker, which was a pretty good job. It doesn’t exist anymore and the company has changed so much that it’s probably unrecognizable. For some reason I always flash back to that job.

Last night Bill and I worked on the resume and this morning I sent it out to a few recruiters and positions I found online. Anything could happen. I sent it to the two women who were instrumental in getting the position that I was offered and rejected from last month. They said when I get my resume together, an honest resume at that, they would help me out.

Whether or not they were talking through their hats is not my concern. They responded they will do what they can, if something pops up. I’m sure it’s in their email trash bin. I certainly can’t blame them, since I did burn them. Shorted them of any commission they might have gotten from the sure thing I was in November.
It’s only the beginning of the month, the beginning of the year and I may have a long way to go, but I’ve taken the first steps.

I didn’t sleep to well last night, woke up a few times. And tried sleeping later than usual but Neil Diamond woke me up when Cherry Cherry was played on the oldies station. Not a bad song overall but alarming enough to make me get out of bed.

I shuffled about, dragging ass, not wanting to go to work. Let’s face it. I don’t like work. I’d rather be financially independent, able to support myself as well as Bill and still have money to help out family and friends should they need it.

I did not win the 300 million dollar jackpot in the Mega Millions lottery the other night. 2 people did and are splitting the pot. Now the amount is down to 12 million dollars, which I will gladly receive once I get those lucky numbers.

I made it to work, unwillingly. And I was early, which I could not help. Marcus was hidden in his office, Calvin sniffling in the humidor and the brain dead Bradley was late. Calvin & Bradley are both sick and think that taking a whole bunch of supplements like Echinacea after they have the virus will help.

I don’t think it will help. Once you got the bug all you can do is let it run its course. I was wary about working with either of them, though Calvin was in better shape, not groaning all day long. I probably groan too when I’m sick, but to hear brain dead Bradley do it, is most annoying.

I made it through the day though, brain dead Bradley left early. My register was off by $0.30 and I had to go through the day’s transactions to figure out what went wrong. It turned out I over charged a customer $0.30 and had to void the transaction and refund the money to the customer’s credit card.

I thought I would be late and have to miss my bus. It’s been so cold and slushy out that I’ve been taking the train to the bus terminal. As luck would have it, there was an express train at the station and the doors closed as soon as I entered. Karma at work, I’d like to think.

I Got A Gal I Love

It’s a day off for me. And it’s been somewhat busy. A visit to 2 supermarkets, some errands on Washington Street, 2 trips to the bibliothèque and the dry cleaners. It was also a day filled with communication problems.

I had some coffee after showering and padded around the apartment, deciding to go out around 10:30. A trip to the dry cleaners and dropped off a few shirts. I was running out of coffee and decided to go to Dunkin Donuts and pick up a few pounds of coffee.

I went and stood in line behind a guy who works in a local pizzeria. There were 3 women behind the counter and all 3 were totally infatuated with the pizza man. He wasn’t good looking which made me think they were angling for jobs at the pizzeria.

I had to pick up the 2 bags of coffee and display them in front of the women before I got the attention of one of the women. The total for 2 pounds was $11.99 and I gave her $12.00. She didn’t even look at me as I placed the 2 pounds in my bag and threw the penny in the tip jar and crumpled up my receipt.

I asked for both the penny and the receipt, which surprised her. If she paid attention to me instead of the pizza man I would have walked away, but since she didn’t…

Dunkin Donuts has printed on every receipt an invitation for a free donut if you fill out a questionnaire about service. After that I got the newspaper and some bagels before walking over to the supermarket. There were several items I wanted to get that wouldn’t fit in the hand basket so I needed a shopping cart.

I walked over to where the shopping carts, where an elderly woman was arranging the bags of groceries she just bought. She was in the way of the other carts so I asked if she could step aside for a moment while I got myself a cart. Oh, the look she gave me.

Someone was waiting for her in a nearby car, not helping her out. I said that I needed a cart and excused myself as I maneuvered around her. She cursed me, so I told her god loves her but I certainly don’t. Then she told me to drop dead to which I replied she was more than likely going to do just that before me.

Not much chicken at the supermarket, perhaps it was due to the fact that the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company had declared bankruptcy a few weeks ago. I paid for my groceries and stopped by the dry cleaners again.

There was a shirt that has been hanging in the shop for over a year now and I frequently commented on how nice a shirt it was. Earlier when I dropped off my shirts I noticed the shirt wasn’t there anymore. I asked Mona, the shop owner if the person who owned the shirt came and picked it up and it turned out they hadn’t it had simply been moved.

She pulled out the shirt and showed it to me. There was another shirt with it, which Mona said would be too small for me, but the shirt I had my eye on, a pink shirt with a contrasting collar, seemed about my size. It was a custom made shirt so there was no size tag on it.

She offered it to me and I tried it on. It fit quite nicely and with that, Mona gave me a shirt that no one wanted after a year. I plan on wearing it to work tomorrow.

I came home and dropped off my shirt and groceries in the hallway and then went to the bibliothèque and picked up a few CD’s and a DVD as well as Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Finishing the Hat’. Bigger book than I expected, still I will lug it around if I need to.

Came home, started some laundry and talked on the phone. First off a call to my brother Frank. I brought up Steve Fallon who to the surprise of a lot of people, logged into Facebook the other day. Steve told me he was writing a book and mentioned if I had any stories about Maxwells I should send them to him.

I mentioned it to Frank who mentioned the sordid aspects of the 1980’s, and that was not the angle I was thinking of. I mentioned about how Steve and Bill Ryan had gone to WFMU and were on Frank’s show when the Coyote Records sampler ‘Luxury Condos are Coming to Your Neighborhood’ was about to come out might have been a more interesting story. No need to visit stories of AA or NA.

Then I headed out after the phone call to Shop Rite. If I wanted chicken, I would probably have to go there instead. It’s a much bigger store and basically a much better store. The other supermarket is right around the corner from me and usually gets my business since they’re that much closer.

I came home again and spoke with Bill on the phone who heard from a bus driving friend that Hyman might have attempted suicide. It’s been a rough year for him since his companion passed away at the end of 2009. Bill didn’t know how accurate this story about Hyman is and there’s been no word from Hyman after texts and emails from Bill and myself.

All in all it’s been a weird day with regards to communication. I communicated with Steve Fallon who thought I was upset with something he wrote and I had to set the record straight.

I love Steve Fallon and never had any problems with him. He’s always looked out for me, and even though he constantly busted my balls, he was also very kind and generous. He could have, perhaps should have, fired me a few times, but despite that I would never have a cross word about him and would definitely defend him against anyone who did have something bad to say about him. So there is nothing but love for Steve Fallon in my heart, and writing that here places it on the record.

I’ve written over 1,000 words and it was not my intention, but there you go.

Steve Fallon?

Steve Fallon?

Steve Fallon?

Steve Fallon !

I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes)

Oy. Mama may have and Papa may have but lord have mercy, this child is tired. Another long day, starting with Bill leaving at 5:30 and kissing me good bye. I stayed in bed as long as possible until Elton John and Kiki Dee woke me up with their yammering, ‘Don’t go breaking my heart’. I used to like that song, but ultimately it’s really not one of Elton’s best. Maybe it’s one of Kiki Dee’s best but not for me.

Right now Bill is playing his keyboard and singing. He doesn’t do that often enough. He’s a different person when he plays, showing a side of him seldom seen. Lawrence O’Donnell is reciting the usual crap that goes on in politics, but it’s turned down low, allowing Bill’s melodious tones to float through the air.

At the cigar shop it was mainly me and Calvin which was mostly alright. The brain dead Bradley made an appearance, dropping off keys that he accidentally brought home last night. We would have gotten by just fine without the keys or seeing the brain dead Bradley today.

It was fairly slow, hardly any regulars showed up at first. They stayed away when Calvin had his lunch time cigar, but when it was my turn it was crazy crowded. A few good guys showed up, Jason, Donnie and of course the formerly named Raymond, now named Dave. It was good to see Dave but it was too crowded to relax and enjoy myself. Plus there were a few lunkheads sitting about too.

Marcus made an appearance later in the day, playing against type as he and Calvin hung out and sharpened their knives for use against Sean who did not come in on Sunday after getting into a street fight in Brooklyn on New Year’s night.

Sean is always late and they’ve probably seen him goofing off and doing nothing one too many times. So there is blood in the water and the sharks are circling. I was hoping to have a burger and fries to treat myself but Marcus and Calvin and some pen seller would not leave.

Don’t they know that after 7:30 it’s my shop and I am the one to get things done?

And Fred the part timer came in, and saw that it was busy. He was 20 minutes early and asked Calvin if he should punch in and help out. Calvin said yes, but to rectify the fact that Fred was early, Fred had to leave early, leaving me to close the store solo.

Yes, the cigar shop did not want to pay the $2.75 it would have to give to Fred should he actually close the shop with me. It was fine with me but it would have helped somewhat if he stayed. I have to get out of this place. It’s terribly ridiculous. And not in a good way of course.

Fred asked me why they had such a high turnover and one of the reasons could be because they always change the rules, or create new rules to justify their ineptitude. How Ron or Dave worked there for 2 years is totally beyond my comprehension. And the low pay doesn’t help.

Tomorrow is a day off and I plan on spending part of the day rewriting my resume. And doing laundry. Maybe I’ll launder my resume. It couldn’t hurt. And it will wash those messy stains from last year, opting for honesty, and letting the chips fall where they may.

I’ll be happy to sleep in and not have to deal with whatever it is the cigar shop offers, besides cigars that is. Cigars certainly don’t smell as bad as the bullshit I have to put up with most of the time.

I Get a Kick Out of You

I am back home. It was a long day. It was a long weekend. It was two days off in a row. It rarely happens though, having a Saturday and a Sunday off. But there it was.

On Friday as I was out for my New Year’s Eve dinner with Bill, Bill mentioned something about Monday. I put the kibosh on that, saying I did not want to even think about Monday until it got here. So, Bill being a smart bloke, said ‘Two days from now…’

That worked. It was abstract enough. Since I’ve been working retail I hardly ever know what day of the week it is. I’ve taken to using the TV to tell me by what shows are being broadcast. Of course I could use this internet doohickey and easily check that way, but the TV has been a reliable constant in my life.

It was back to work for me today. Working with the brain dead Bradley and Sean. Marcus was also in for part of the day before going off to wherever it is that Marcus goes. I’ve spent the first couple of days of the New Year trying to be positive. A new leaf maybe. And I’ve been able to maintain that so far.

Today I carried it into the cigar shop. The brain dead Bradley was in the front of the store and I let a jolly ‘Yo Ho Ho’ be my greeting. After getting my coat off and punching in I walked by the brain dead Bradley and said, ‘What’s the happy haps?’

Now I figured most people would understand that that basically means what’s happening, but the brain dead Bradley merely mumbled, ‘I don’t know what that means.’ The brain dead Bradley isn’t most people, neither is Sean for when I asked Sean if he knew what ‘happy haps’ meant and he didn’t.

Sean uses words like ‘conversating’ and ‘tooken’ so he gets a pass and he’s also only 20 years old. Maybe I’m am just that cutting edge, just a few minutes into the future ahead of most everyone, though I just asked Bill if he knew the phrase and he didn’t. Maybe I just came up with a new phrase.

The brain dead Bradley was mostly uncommunicative throughout the day, making it difficult to be in the same room with him. I did my best to avoid the brain dead Bradley whenever I could. Sean was OK to be around despite the fact that he was involved in a fight on New Year’s Eve and got his face messed up somewhat.

I am firm in my resolve to get the hell out of the cigar shop as soon as possible. Not going to take the first job offered to me (well maybe) but the writing is on the wall. I can’t see myself being here for another year. Still I maintained my positive outlook, not allowing much of anything to get me down.

And no, Xanax was not involved though Xanax could be the reason why the brain dead Bradley was such a numb nuts today. I don’t think you’re supposed to snort the pills and I think that is the brain dead Bradley method of delivery.

Another day of work tomorrow then off on Wednesday. I asked for this upcoming Sunday off from Calvin since Chaz is having his holiday party and I would like to attend but I haven’t seen the new schedule yet since I don’t think Calvin has gotten it together yet.

I suppose I will find out tomorrow when Calvin returns back to work.