Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

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  • Published: May 5th, 2015
  • Category: Society
  • Comments: 1


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It’s two in the morning and I’ve just woken up to find myself walking down a quiet street, cognizant only of pre-war tenements to my left, a highway in the distance to my right and the street numbers that pass me by. 223rd. 222nd. 221st. Oh, good, I’m only a mile from home. My phone’s GPS corrects me that I’m actually somewhere in the north Bronx and it’s more like seven miles. I’d call a cab, but I’m flat broke until Wednesday. I see a train station two blocks away. Apparently I’m near the 2 line.

It’s four in the morning and I’ve just woken up to find myself at the Harlem terminus of the 3 line. Putting two and two together, it would appear I transferred to an uptown local without checking first if it was a 1 train.

It’s four thirty and I’ve just woken up to find myself on a downtown train at 110th Street. I panic and leap off, expecting to catch the next uptown train. My mistake: It’s 110th and Lenox, not 110th and Broadway. I’m still on the 3 line. A woman approaches on the station platform and states that she’s a registered nurse and I don’t look so hot. I tell her I need sleep. Don’t we all.

It’s six in the morning and I’ve just woken up on the 1 train as it pulls in to the platform two stops past mine. At least I’m in the right neighborhood now. The problem is, I have to leave for work at seven.

It’s ten in the morning and I’ve just woken up on my bed, fully clothed, to the phone ringing. My boss is calling me, asking where I am.

I just fucked up.

Piecing together what I did this morning is harder than piecing together what caused this to happen. I can point to the 55 hours’ work, not including the full day Saturday, that I’ve entered on the past week’s timesheet for a job that doesn’t pay all the bills. I can point to the moonlighting I’ve done the previous Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday evenings to make ends meet, the ambush job interview on Thursday ratcheting up the stress, or of the moonlighting gig that left me in Midtown at midnight this fateful Monday.

But all I can think of is that this crash will not only cost me a day’s lost wages, but may label me as unreliable to a shortlist of my contracting employer’s coordinators and clients, the volume of whose work justifies my continued employment. I’ve forgotten to check after myself, because, as my coworkers have repeatedly advised and admonished, nobody else will.

Maybe, I think, I’m just not cut out for this cut-throat dog-eat-dog economy. But then, I wonder, who could possibly be?

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