People have asked if the drive bothers me. Not really, as long as I have music. And actually I'm grateful for the drive home: I think if it were a short commute, I would be unloading more stress of the day onto my family. The 45 minutes to unwind, sing, and yell at the windshield a little lets all that steam off. Crossing the TZ today it was U2's "Acrobat". Don't let the bastards grind you down. Right on.
Speaking of bastards (sorry, yes, I will be civil), the worst part of the commute is making that turn onto the road where the garage is, and seeing that circle of red shirts. I hate it. I know they're not going to do anything to me and it's just stupid posturing, stopping at the entrance, letting them circle, letting them be the ones to decide when you can proceed. But what a shitty way to start your day. I hate it.
On the other hand, down the road from the garage is a Freihoffer's Bakery Outlet and in the mornings and late afternoons the air around the building smells AMAZING.
So today the Rabbi and I took the plunge, took a truck and a handful of tickets and went out on our own. "Fuck it, let's just do it," I said in my charmingly direct way. "We'll give it the ol' college try," the Rabbi agreed. When he crosses the picket line, the strikers tend to call him "College Boy" and I think it stings.
We loaded up with everything we could think of and rolled out of the compound. "Scaaaaaaaaaab!" the picketers yelled as we rolled past.
"Scab," the Rabbi muttered. "That's not even a technically correct term," he complained, "pardon me if I show off my college education."
"How about they call us unhealed, oozing, pus-filled wounds?" I suggested. "That's at least a little bit insulting."
"Insulting, exactly. Is Scab supposed to upset me? Scab? Really? Should I be filled with shame? It's not like they're yelling at me that I have a vagina or something."
*COUGH* *CHOKE* *COFFEE SPEW* I grabbed my phone so I could quickly jot that down for tonight's post, but I was laughing so hard I could barely type, then the Rabbi starts yelling at the windshield, "Hey Vagina Face!! You know how to use that span wrench?!" I completely lost it. I was crying laughing.
So we stopped for breakfast, and being that it was still a little early to be knocking on doors, we headed over to the CO. If you can't test a line from the house backwards, why not test from the CO forwards, we thought, rather pleased with ourselves. We're intellectual people, we can do this. And so began a day of total and complete frustration. Frustration at being two completely competent people who were not used to completely SUCKING at what they do. Frustration at swearing there was no dial tone on the pair, then another tech comes in, clips on the leads and gets dial tone. Frustration at running a new jumper when it was pointless. Frustration at having no groove - forgetting to take tools out of the truck or put them back in, leaving the cones on the road, not knowing who had the keys, stupid little shit like that. Frustration at the belts not fitting when we psyched ourselves up to climb. Frustration at knowing what the meter is doing, but having no clue what the meter is telling you. Frustration at not being able to get the job done, at wanting to get it done because we and everyone else in the garage has a huge work ethic and actually gives a shit...but not having the equipment or the wherewithal. It was exhausting, a long day of a lot of hard work and very little to show for it.
Picketers came to circle us as we were at a cross box in Monsey, across the street from one of the Orthodox schools for girls. They behaved themselves - three stayed across the street and another three were on our side but back about 10 feet. Still, my heart was pounding and the Rabbi's jaw was clenched as he unscrewed a couple binding posts. There was no name-calling. Really they just loitered and took some pictures. "Damn, my hair's a mess," the Rabbi muttered, "I hope they get my good side." I sighed, "C'mon, must you? I have no makeup on." And we tried to keep cool and keep at the job but we were so green and inexperienced, who could work like that? Might as well by your physics teacher lurking over your shoulder. After a while we packed up and just left. They didn't follow, and as we drove away I saw them in the parking lot of the school, giving their signs to a group of girls and taking their picture. I thought that was rather gross.
Driving to another job later in the day, we passed Anthony (one of the Mountain brothers) and my sister-in-solidarity, Nora, working that same cross box. I rolled down the window and yelled, "Scaaaaaaaaaaaaaaab!" They laughed and waved and yelled back, "Management scum!!" See, now, that's funny.
We got back to the garage at the end of the day dead tired, with only one ticket closed. But as we stood around in the hallway, another team came in, Joe and Glenn, looking as weary as us, waving their sheaf of jobs and declaring they had only closed two that day. "Only one more than us?" the Rabbi marveled. "I don't feel so bad now..."
More seasoned techs helped us pick the right safety belts, took us through the tool rooms and helped pack the truck a little better for tomorrow. They gave us their cell phones and told us to call for assistance at any time, nothing was too stupid. People really are encouraging and generous about sharing their knowledge. Our garage supervisor said that we'd tried our best and that was all he could ask for, and tomorrow he would give us more local jobs so he could come with us.
I couldn't tell you the music coming home because I spaced out on the Palisades and missed the 287/87 east exit, so ended up going all the way north to Bear Mountain. A prettier drive, yes, but a much longer one. I arrived home to find a package waiting for me. I thought it was my new cargo pants but no...surprise!!! A Burt's Bees Spa gift package from my old boss. She sent one to all "her girls" who were out there in the trenches, isn't that awesome? You really do get by with a little help from your friends...
It was a B day.