On my way to pick up Flower Child from school, I was hungry and stopped to grab a slice of pizza. Hey! It’s a long walk, don’t judge me. I didn’t have time to sit, I added a heathy
six ummm, three, three shakes of red pepper flakes and ate as I walked. When I was growing up, this was a common sight, but not so much anymore. Is it Manhattan vs Brooklyn, or just different etiquette with the years? Husband always wants to sit down when he eats. Not me; what’s the point of street food if you have to stop to eat it? Then again, I always liked to stand and walk when I was eating, my mother used to tell me I was going to get fat toes.
As I walked, I ate my slice, hopscotched around the tourists on their way to the museum, and let my mind wander. Walking through crowded streets is a good time for mind wandering. Like being in the shower, only more reflective than creative. I remembered an incident I was going to blog about a little while back, goosed to the back of my brain by medical mayhem.
I had been walking a dog through Central Park, and it was a crappy late afternoon. Cold, sporadic drizzle, one of those days where gray becomes a temperature and a barometer, something you feel in your bone marrow.
I heard a small motor coming up behind me, and turned to see one of the golf cart thingies used by the Central Park Conservancy for driving along the paths, reaching different sections of the park for clean up and or maintenance. The cart stopped just when the dog stopped to pee. The maintenance worker pulled himself out from behind the steering wheel, and grabbed a trash stick from the back. I don’t know what they’re actually called, but it’s a long wooden stick with a sharp point or nail at the end for picking up loose trash or papers without having to touch anything nasty.
Not a glamorous job, for sure. Then again, neither is picking up dog poop. But this guy was pissed off, stomping and muttering and then glaring at me like I represented all wrong in his life that had left him stabbing moldy juice boxes for eight bucks an hour. My writer’s mind took a stroll. If he were my character, why would he be so angry? Big plans thwarted by having to work late? A gardener who had been demoted for poisoning pigeons? Girlfriend dumped him for some bozo with a shiny suit and a desk job? He spiked exactly one piece of paper, tossed the stick in the back of the cart, and started moving again. By this point, I was walking again, dog veering left where the path forked. I hoped the maintenance guy would be turning right, or straight ahead towards the reservoir. No such luck, this thing was behind me again, and of course this is exactly where the dog needs to stop and poop. I’m now quite certain it wasn’t my imagination, the guy really was glaring at me. I then began seeing the scene as an episode of Law & Order, roped off with sunshine yellow crime scene tape and the trash pick planted in my sternum. Mrs Fringe must have been looking swell, maybe I remembered to brush my hair that morning, since he seemed to think I was someone I’m not.
Part of my mind was now hearing this cart behind me like it was Christine, Stephen King’s possessed Plymouth Fury. Yanno, the part of me that was noticing no one else was within spitting distance. Part of me wanted to reach out and make peace? a connection? “Hey, buddy, this fancy dog isn’t mine, and I sure as heck don’t live in one of those apartment mansions across the street.” Another part of me was getting pissed off and resentful. Fuck him. Who was he to make assumptions about who I was and what I was doing? Your life sucks? Pffft. Get in line, my friend.
I said none of the above. I did however, begin talking to the dog, and let my Brooklyn out. There are all levels of socioeconomic class throughout this city. Poor, destitute, working class, middle class, wealthy, and filthy rich. All can be found throughout the five boroughs. But certain accents there’s no mistaking. Clear as a tramp stamp, my accent says Brooklyn peasant.