Saturday, September 10, 2016

4 Dollars And A Possible Job

I got to the Quarter at 8:30 PM, last (Friday) night.
I decided to go into Starbucks and spend my gift card down to 82 cents, with the purchase of a small black coffee. I have been putting sugar in my coffee, and even in my oatmeal, lately.
I went something like 20 years without any sugar (sucrose, that is) at all, except for maybe one of those 1 ounce Hershey's nuggets to go with a cup of coffee every once in a while.
I broke a 12 day fast one time with oatmeal that was flavored "cinnamon and brown sugar," one time. I saw bright lights flashing in my eyes (I would call it "seeing stars" but it was more like seeing shooting stars) and it was as if my ears were on the verge of ringing.
I have started to transition into another fast of sorts, having had nothing but juice all day Friday, and having brought about a quart of it out busking with me.
I made 4 dollars.
When I got to the Lilly Pad after having left Starbucks when they closed at 9 PM, there was a guy playing a guitar on Lilly's other stoop. Next to him sat a scraggly looking guy whom I wouldn't recognize until he spoke up, after I had first asked the guy with the guitar if he was going to be there long.
He said that his goal was to make something, anything at all. He had a one dollar bill in his case.
I thought about the difficulty he would have making money there in the dark; I would never think of playing the Lilly Pad without my spotlight, for which I had spent myself down to under a dollar with the purchase of batteries for.
The scraggly looking guy began to berate me: "I know you play here, and I also know that you pick through the garbage at Rouses..."
I tried to figure out what his point was, and figured that he was trying to say that I was the lowest of the low and as such had no claim to anything, not even a "regular" playing spot.
"I haven't had to do that for 3 years, now. How 'bout yourself?" I asked the obviously drunken skeezer."
"No, he's good, but you need to hold your ground," he said to the guitar player.
"It's first come, first serve, buddy," said the skeezer who had probably met the guitarist who was new in town and had shown him the Lilly Pad as a spot where he might play, based in large part upon the fact that he had seem me there. Like the clueless gold prospector who gets to California and doesn't have a clue where to look for gold and just winds up picking where he has seen others doing so; not in tune with the axiom that "the best place to look for gold is where nobody has looked yet."
I told the guy that I knew the lady that lived in the house and that she had given me the spot, etc.
The skeezer ejaculated: "Really? Are you for real?" as if it was the most cockamamie thing that I was obviously making up.
I headed toward the Quartermaster, where I intended to pick up a milk crate and to call Lilly. I would then return with the milk crate, set up my stuff, sit on it and wait for Lilly to run the guy off.
The guitarist was telling me that he wasn't going to be there long, just needed a little bit of money, but the skeezer was apparently of the attitude that I needed to hit the road, because I used to take food out of Rouses Market's trash, and had therefore identified myself with a class of people who have not rights to anything. It is typical of the mindset of New Orleans skeezers to divide society such.
And this is the exact reason that Lilly is so effective in running them off, taking less than a minute and only a few words before the skeezers go off, mumbling "yes, ma'am, sorry ma'am, I didn't know you were trying to sleep, ma'am."

A Job?

Then, upon getting to the Quartermaster and having composed a text to Lilly, who hadn't answered the call, I saved it to draft, as, from out of the place came Jerry, the cook, who told me that one of the bike deliverymen had just quit and that it was going to put someone else in the position of having to work double shifts in the short term.
He told me to speak to the guy about working as a bike deliveryman for the Quartermaster. "You get a shift pay, plus your tips, plus a complimentary dinner every night, anything on the menu; plus a soda," said Jerry.
I spoke with the delivery manager, whom I had spoken with on several occasions before. He basically told me that the guy who had quit had been there for 3 years and was having problems with one of the cashiers who worked there and may have quit in the heat of passion, and he (the manager) was going to give him time to calm down and reconsider; maybe a couple days.
But, if the guy was gone for good, I might be able to work some shifts there.
This was good news.
Since I wasn't going to be on the road that very night, which is something that I had hoped for, as the Lilly Pad was looking like the typical 30 dollar at the most proposition.
I sent the text off to Lilly.
She called me back from the restaurant where her daughters work, telling me that she would be home in about 45 minutes. "Not at my place," was her response to my telling her what the guys had said.
I got back there, locked my bike and carried my milk crate over to the spot to find that the guy with the guitar and the skeezer had left, in the course of the half hour that I was gone.
There was a black guy sitting on the other stoop right by me, though. He looked like one of the veteran skeezers. He asked me for a quarter, which I told him truthfully that I didn't have.
I was eventually able to persuade him to leave by telling him that I never made any money with someone sitting next to me, and that he could sit and beg tourists from just about anywhere else.
Then, Lilly and her daughters arrived.
"They left," I said.
I never know what goes on behind the scenes, but a lot of time they leave before Lilly even has to become involved. She might call some of the long time skeezers and drug dealers who have, like myself, laid claim to the block, and enlists them to carry the message that when the guy shows up with the guitar and the plastic sharks, they will have to leave. Calling the police is a distant afterthought in that block, it seems.
So then, I played and made 4 dollars, breaking 3 strings in the process and repairing the first 2 before breaking one for what was the second time, leaving me no choice but to play minus it.
I chose to get Harold a can of 77 cent cat food, myself another pack of 1 dollar batteries and to return home, hopeful of perhaps getting some work delivering food in an area that I have come to know like the back of my hand.
Now, it is Saturday, and I want to get out there pretty early, on this day of juice fasting.

1 comment:

alex carter said...

Damn don't strings cost about a dollar each? All that work to come out a dollar behind.

Bike messenger is looking pretty good. Hell the $35 a day my "day job" pays me is looking awfully good esp. considering that probably half the population out here in "silicon valley" makes less.

But, what about your plans to make CDs? What about your plans to get discovered?