Flash: A Summer Poem About Service

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.”
Russel Baker

He hated this fucking day job. He hated the friend that gave him this shitty delivery job. Is it still a job if you don’t pay taxes? The job is pretty easy, answer a phone call then send a text with an address and shut the fuck up about it. But no, it was how many minutes this and what you got that.  The level of micromanaging he had to endure consistently tested the strength of his friendship. Because of this he adopted the “Always Keep Your Phone On Silent” method of aggregated communication. The only way he knew if anyone called or texted him was when he wanted to check his twitter status, which he did often. Like dude, how incognito are you posting crap every 5 minutes? It was the only way he could speak without confrontation.

Every day it was a different part of the city, a different way to get there, and a different amount of time to do it all. A different face with money in different denominations, clueless of the risk or hassle it took to get there. It was always bro this and yo what took so long that. He would then tell me of how he ran out of facial expressions to would illustrate his apparent disgust.

“Motherfucker I don’t ride a bike I ride the train”

Those words must have shot out of his mouth like some weird New York City I can’t drive turrets. Every out of towner or “New New York” transplant looking at him with this pitiful didn’t your public school have Drivers Ed face? Even hicks get their tractor-trailer licenses what’s wrong with you? He would try to save face with the all time favorite “well I was born here and…” but by then they had already paid him and were casually ushering him out the door. Nobody care about your non driving disability until it’s time for a road trip or you can’t rent a car then it‘s all “you’re useless”.

So there he went, with his camera in one hand, a sack of shit in a fancy fanny pack and the heat wave of the century piggybacking on his balls. In and out of the train system like a slug on salt, melting with every movement until the nearest Bodega fed his thirst. All he ever wanted was a simple address so he didn’t have to call and beg for a buzzer number while the nosy (fill in the blank) poked him with their disrespectful and suspicious eyeballs. The streets in Crown Heights were rough but Park Slope has CHILDREN, and lots of them. Children are being pumped out of fire hydrants wetting cars that were filled with children while children crossed the street. A child is giving a poorly parked car a ticket while the owner throws a temper tantrum. It was too much for him. He lived in the night and the sight of kids was sunlight to a vampire. He just really missed his son. He would later profess his deep love for children and his shame if he ever got busted in front of one.

He was in and out of random apartments like wind, knowing the next breath the host would take would be filled with mood altering smoke. Breathe in… oh my god I’ve had a shitty day. Breathe out… yeah man fuuuuuuuck that.  Breathe in… oh shit I have a dead line. Breathe out… huh? Everyone had their own anxieties to tame so he never judged them. He would just stand outside their doors in their stairway Google mapping the next address, praying just this once his friend got the information correct. Was it Smith Street or Smith Avenue? Finding the correct address at times resembled his inner struggle to find the right answers by shifting through God-given signals in order to justify his immediate lifestyle. Sometimes he would get it right, other times he would wander into the wrong part of town trying to imagine a way to hang up and slam this phone in a text message.

Everything was as scary and nerve wrecking as it was an engaging and exhilarating adventure. The smoother every hand to hand was the more comfortable and paranoid he got. Weaving In and out of random police terrorism checks and the occasional undercover like the trash that blows through a train platform.  He never stopped arguing with his friend, instead finding the art in their confrontational banter. Confident yet humble, he never felt as aware as he did dull. A smile got him a glass of water and a small joke would get him a generous rip from a strangers bong. Gone were the hard edges defined by sharp shadows that composed his world, all that remained was a city similar to a watercolor painting allowed to bleed a little too long. The heavier his eyelids got under the sun the more dilated his eyes were, allowing the beautiful light of existence to rush in, everything looking like an overexposed black and white picture.

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”
Sam Keen

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One Response to “Flash: A Summer Poem About Service”

  1. I love your photography; it’s so lovely and quietly celebratory

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