My first job outside of high school, though it did not have the suit part of the suit and tie equation of success, there was definitely a mandated tie. And a blue vest. I worked at the London Drugs on 42nd and East Boulevard.
At first I was doing strictly grunt work. Cut open box, take out box content, put box content on shelf. Repeat. Though brain numbing at time, I got to use a knife to open the box, so I was vaguely entertained using ninja techniques to open each cardboard box with my measly box cutter. After no time at all, I was moving on up. From stock boy, to cashier, to Audio Video Specialist. Audio Video Specialist was a fancy phrase that permitted you to now open boxes that contained televisions in them, as well as hide in the Audio Video department’s customer display room watching John Ford films.
On my lunch breaks I would sit on the benches outside, carefully covering up the tie (Audio Video Specialist = No polyester blue vest) with a jacket, so I could consume my chocolate and sandwich, without the doubtless inquiries of insensitive patrons who could not wait until they were inside to ask about the coupon book.
Outside, my 30 minutes of freedom. East 42nd, a street that feels like an afterthought in city planning, skirts the large London Drugs/condos/liquor store complex on one side and some dilapidated houses on the other side. I know people still live in them, because if you park on their side, a ticket will appear on your dashboard in minutes.
Breakers and old people weren’t the only people who liked to hangout outside of London Drugs. Another gentleman until he was banded from the area, was always there as well. He never sat on a bench, choosing to slump his body into a cross legged position, his imposing figure wheezing with every intake of air through his blue, decaying lungs. He wore galoshes in all seasons. A Santa Clause had, waaaaay past Christmas. He looked like an untrimmed Captain Haddock. His face was lost in a dense scape of hair, his eyes, usually squinty with the drink. This was Sid, The Handsome Bum.
To be continued…