Hot town, summer in the city
Posted on July 30, 2015
New York City’s schizoid weather is getting the best of me. The summer started cool and mild, Hell, even downright cold on some days in May. As if the last dregs of winter didn’t get the memo. Now summer is in full swing—really cranking up the heat and putting the screws to us.
Before the dog days kicked in, my girlfriend and I played around with the idea of calling an AC installer. Turns out, you have to have one in NYC. It’s the law. Plus, I don’t want that box AC falling out and crushing some poor schmuck’s head in while he or she are taking out the garbage or sorting their recyclables. Maybe I got lazy, or maybe every time I had a free day to call, the weather wasn’t that bad and sitting around half naked was actually relaxing, but we’ve never called and we have gone all summer without temperature control. My girlfriend is German and this is all normal to her. But I’m a red blooded American and we need air conditioning since our WASP ancestors were never meant to live in such conditions. Then there are days where after the gym I can’t stop sweating to save my life. Twenty minute cold showers and ice packs, the kind you get for knee injuries and sore backs, and five minutes later I’ll still be a hot mess with pit stains.
The summer is one of the few times I look forward to riding the subway or going to work. Those places are ice boxes and it is heavenly. Though, the heat has other side effects, namely, tourism.
Tourism in NYC during the summer has the same detrimental effect on the subways and sidewalks as putting 6 million 15 year old boys behind the wheel of a truck on busy roads during rush hour in any small town USA. Subway cars for tourists end at the doors. Unless there are open seats, then they will take two and an extra one for their shopping bag if one is available. If not, where someone needs to stand due to overcrowding during rush hour will do just fine for them. In general, the door is the popular hangout spot for them, though. It doesn’t matter if they are getting off after one stop or seven, they really don’t want to miss getting off the train at that stop and can’t be bothered to move aside. It doesn’t help that beggars and subway performers start getting a whiff of tourist blood in the summer, either. Pretty soon you will find yourself neck deep in hip-hop dance offs and Mexican mariachi trios. If you’re not careful, you might get your head kicked in during someone’s one man show dance routine on the 4 or 5. If you’re really unlucky, you’ll get a subway preacher. They don’t want your money, but they’ll take a donation.
Every Wednesday through Sunday, I take the 7 to the 4 or 5 and head down to Wall Street to get to work. Once I’m in Manhattan on the 4 or 5, it’s usually 20 to 40 suits, a tourist group with always one person with a young child regretting their choice of transportation, more bags than a 747, and me crammed in there. It’s always the same. Unless it rains, then there are either fewer tourists or more umbrellas. You wouldn’t believe that people come from all over the world just to look at Wall Street. A street that doesn’t have that much to offer besides the NYSE and a Trump building and a Duane Reade. But, people don’t mind blocking the sidewalk for you so that they can get a picture of the little set of doors to the NYSE or the golden 14 Wall St etched into the side of a building owned by Alexander Rovt, a fertilizer tycoon from the Ukraine. The smell of the place is a mixture of hot dog urine, open food market, and cigarette breaks. One of my favorite features of the area are the little $-shaped bicycle racks that are corroded from being used as a doggy toilet nonstop in the heat.
The summer also seems to drive my coworkers and our clients crazy. Or maybe it is just the industry that I am in. Who knows. A little of both is probably true. On one side, most of us are college educated youngsters who were raised to have summer vacations and their way when it comes to doing things. On the other, clients think we are miracle workers. Or they honestly don’t know what it is we do or how it works. Then just to add some spice to life, there’s Sales. If it isn’t a coworker or a client trying to make your life difficult, it’s Sales. If you don’t work at a job with a Sales department, this is basically how it works: Sales deals with the client (some of the time) and gets a cut of the money from each project (usually), while you basically get paid the same to do all of the actual work. So, it is in Sales’ best interests to say and do things for the client that only a) people who have no clue how business works would say or do, b) someone who has never had to work in Production before would say or do, c) a masochist would say or do, d) people who like to be taken advantage of would say or do, or e) a complete fucking asshole would say or do. Sales have taken the motto “The customer is always right” and ran with it. But, sometimes that would be like letting a baby make really important life choices or having a drug addict house sit your mansion while babysitting that same baby. When you work in an environment where the customer is always right and Sales does whatever they can to make sure that that client is satisfied with how right they are, you’re sitting on a time bomb and eventually your ass is going to get blown sky high. It’s not a company’s job to coddle customers to the point where they are calling the shots. You’re supposed to educate them somewhat on what it is you do and how it works. What realistically would work. Not “that’s what you want, we’ll get it for you. And for a tenth of the cost and time we would normally need for that. Sure thing, no problem!”
I digress. My fits of joy and clear thinking for writing are soiled by anger and the urge to fly to Japan to punch a Sales member in the face. It’s summer and it’s hot and I’m miserable from those two. It’ll be wonderful to be out again in the cool, crisp air once fall comes around the corner with the leaves turning a crispy, golden brown and the fiery heat going out of the sunlight. Yes sir, sounds downright pleasing.
Love as always,
Dr. K. Doonesbury