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JACK IRV’S Column #2

. 4 min read
JACK IRV’S Column #2

“Old glossy eyed man missing an ear fighting charlie in Nam’ and an arm back home was finally hanged for war crimes in Duong Lam and dragged through the dusty streets until his head separated from his torso."

That’s all he really ever knew about his old man, but he thanked him with a tip of the hat for having brains enough to grease the griddle.

In the fall, Irv took a job, with the Kojack Detective Agency guarding coal barges on the East River.  He had no idea why coal barges were in jeopardy or even a target needing a night guard, but “hey”, he would say: “It sure beats selling a pint of warm blood on Times Square to buy a cheeseburger.”

He sat through the graveyard shift vaguely listening to smooth jazz on his scratchy radio. At 22:00 til' dawn and he’d walk the streets of New York City home amongst the whines of garbage trucks in a khaki uniform holding a nightstick.  The occasional whiffs from morning bread deliveries and the bundled newsstand and cart vendors getting it together to open.  He shared an affinity for them, working in outhouse sized boxes to the puttering tunes of little electric heaters.  

They say that sometimes you learn more in the doghouse, but I think that pertains to relationships.

A job’s a job’s a job…

I remember the AIG building, on 175 Water Street, where we used to play tag. The soggy carpeting was slippery to run on, the tables were overturned and red trays inscribed with AIG insignia were strewn all around. On one return we tried to open the gate and drive off in garbage trucks, but the security guards heard the stir and came quickly. They chased us for a moment, but we escaped through the doors and onto the streets of the financial district—away from their jurisdiction.

At a later visit, a friend of mine stood atop a work desk on the job site and defecated an ochre log into the security guard’s chinese chicken and broccoli leftovers.  He then calmly stepped down, makeshift wiped with blueprint documents, closed the styrofoam and returned it to the security guard mini-refrigerator.

On one group expedition, we found ourselves wet and drunk ambling amtrak tunnels on the west side of Manhattan.  Only moments before we had been drinking at a more excessive rate than a boat full of wasps at the Hyannis Port Regatta.

One man in a security cubicle was the impasse to our entry.  He sat in a small white booth, amidst silence and rubble, underneath Hudson yards.

A massive moon crater slammed on top of his booth startling him and jolting him to his feet.  We could see through the triangular, metal square window as he investigated further.  Soon more slams on top, the shower of meteorites barraged his station like a war zone in downtown Fallujah.

Finally, he mustered the courage to run out the booth—stumbling like a mustang with a broken hind-leg.  He wobbled off to the contractor’s double-wide trailer; seeking refuge and an overcooked pot of instant coffee.

Then came the Fulton Transit Center, before it opened—must’ve been some time in the early twenty-teens.  

The ceiling's circular skylight, that is now filled with glass, was once a curious climbable steel beam.  One makes the fatuous crawl over a certain fatal fall.  Peering down into the hole of rotting earth that reveals a gash of harsh open rubble.

Upon leaving we observed the security booth. This one had a more tortoise shell exterior; something of an outer space escape pod.

We crept close, closer, and finally holding in breath—peered our eyes up slowly through the little window.  There he was an ole sunken geezer staring directly into our eyes as if he knew we were going to appear. “EEEEEEEY!!!”  With a strong kick to the door the chase began.

We escaped away into the shadows as he screamed threats and warnings in a thick accent that was hard to understand.

Their only threat is a police call. Luckily, you’ll be gone before they ever show.  It’s an obscure moment of fear, like walking by a priest who reeks of garlic.

It always makes you wonder…Do they report it?

Reporting it sort of makes them look bad also, it’s like getting overcharged for– are you really going to call that into your bank?

In such an otherwise mundane oversight job where nothing ever happens, is this a moment of brief entertainment?  Or just a torturous taunt by asshole kids?

It’s a New York thing to conjure up an elaborate backstory– don’t you agree?

His name was Edgar...he has a thick goatee. He would often pass out on the R Train home grasping a Pepsi Max.

Paul is definitely a Jets fan. He drives a red Ram 250 truck over the Verrazano Bridge every morning, yawning chicken parm dreams into his Dunkin Donuts cup.

Matuidi is a hard working immigrant, this is his second job. He takes the 4-train home after a grueling day at Cricket wireless on Eastern Parkway.

Are security guards essential workers?  Probably in some cases, like banks and Landmark buildings—But construction sites?  Alone in porta-potty sized booth beside cranes replacing yesterday’s utopias with condos?

One can acquire everything in solitude except character.  

Salute the security guard, but avoid him.


1—Desert Hearts

2—The Game

3—The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things

4—Hard Eight

5—Crazy in Alabama

6—Star 80

7—Only Angels Have Wings

Columnist Jack Irv is Laid Off's weekly contributor. Come back next Tuesday to read more of his column.

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