Friday, December 16, 2011

Chapter 12 - HELP WANTED: Tales of a Free-Spirit Professional

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Part 2 - Free at Last

I loved being out of work; especially the mornings where I could wake up when I wanted; no alarm; no mad dash to the subway.  I’d never been a late sleeper, so it wasn’t like I was getting up at or anything; it was just more civilized waking up naturally. 

I fell into a routine rather quickly which consisted of walking the dog, grabbing an iced coffee and dealing with alternate side of the street parking.  Now that the Madsen Group was behind me (along with the hefty paycheck), I decided to cancel the garage and park my car on the street.  Who cared about being a slave to Daily Street Cleaning?  I had all the time in the world!

At first, I liked sitting in my car for an hour and a half on some days, with the windows and sunroof open, driver’s seat slightly reclined, writing in my journal.  I especially enjoyed watching people as they hurried to get to work as I sat there thinking how lucky I was not to have anywhere to go. 

I made friends with the other parking people and quickly realized that they were a close-knit bunch, always looking out for one another.

My first week in, I met the entire cast of characters.  There was Sayjil – a software programmer who worked from home and took care of his young daughter.  Carmella was a retired crossing guard and had lived in the neighborhood for years; and then there was Al who scared me a little at first with his gruff ways and unexpressive tendencies.

“You new?” he asked one morning, when I pulled into a prime Tue/Fri spot in front of my building.

“I’m sorry,” I said, not quite sure what he meant or if he was even talking to me since he pretty much looked over my shoulder when he talked.

“Haven’t seen you before,” he said giving me the once over.  “I’ve been parking my car here for years and you don’t look familiar.”

His demeanor unnerved me and I fought the urge to apologize and ask if it was okay to park there.  Instead, I chatted away, pretending like I didn’t notice his lack of warmth or manners for that matter.

Eventually, Al warmed up and asked for my number.  Not for a date, though.  No…..Al was in his seventies and more interested in not having to move his car.

“Gimme your number,” he grumbled one day – though it was a warm grumble; I’d started to notice the difference.  “If I get a good spot, I’ll call you and let you know.”

Besides my alternate side of the street parking friends, life was a little light on the social front.  I never realized how much I relied on work to feed that part of my life.  Working in an office, there were always people to talk to.  Whether you wanted to chat or not, it didn’t matter – you could if you wanted to.  I missed people.

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