Thursday, December 30, 2010

The sixth day of Christmas: I wish I knew what was going on


The sun is bright, the snow is melting. Walking down Amsterdam, there’s an ambulance in front of the projects. Someone is being carefully loaded into the back. A snow plow driver had pulled over to see what’s going on.

Stopping into Barney Geengrass for my morning coffee, I marvel at the multicultural staff Gary has put together . Asian, African-American, Latino, tattooed white guys and an actor. All who take pride in their work. They slice sturgeon,nova, lox paper thin with the delicacy of surgeons.

Green snow-suited department of sanitation workers are digging out the trash cans. And widening the crossing pathways on the church’s corners. It’s only taken four days for them to get here. Can’t complain though, major parts of the outer boroughs are still snowed under, angry at feeling ignored by our city and its self-described competent and efficient technocrat mayor. By tomorrow, many corners will be deep pools of impassable slush spilling out into the streets. But not ours. Ours will be dry because we shoveled them out every day.

I open the doors. Marty is sitting there. He looks up. “Is it ok to sit here, Reverend?” he asks. “Sure, make yourself at home.” I sit down with my coffee to join him. “So Marty, what’s going on?” I ask. “I wish I knew what was going on,” he replies. “ How you doing?” I ask. “Not bad,” he says, staring off into the distance. He continues to stare. then gets up and walks off. No extended philosophical discussion today. No jokes, stories of his father. Not today.

I decide to do some paper work. More unexpected bills from the long landmarks fight. Promotional materials from the denomination and Spanish Bible study materials delivered months too late. With unused service bulletins, its all recycling.

Nazim, the super from the Belnord across the street drops by to see how it’s going. If we’re moving back in ok. We talk in great detail about the process of checking out the pipes, getting the water back on. I find it overwhelming. As overwhelming as dealing with the boiler and getting the heat back on. My first priority. A place where I’m feeling stuck. He wants to help make a plan to get his staff involved, with his boss’s permission, of course. We need a licensed plumber. I thank him again for his gracious help removing the gates. For him, helping us is a form of prayer. He wishes me good holidays and a happy new year. It’s time to lock up.

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