Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Thirtieth day of Lent: We have phones, we have wi-fi

A lollipop, a beer bottle cap, the usual butts and matches and a baby mattress jammed above the door....
Norm Blechner arrives to work on the archive exhibit. He’s decided where it should go and studied various systems to hang and exhibit our history. Has a plan for a viewing bench that will be in front and help visitors identify what they’re looking at. But most moving, he’s produced a  graphic recreation of the Bible verse from above our door, in the original King James Version: Not by might, nor by power but by my spirit saith the Lord of Hosts...standing out against his rendering of the original decorative detailed background. He wants to mount the words from Zechariah 4: 6  above the whole exhibit, make it the theme. That’s it, he says,that says it all...imagine people choosing that verse to be their set a course...
Norm finishes his photographs, puts away his measuring tape. He’ll be back Thursday.
Next Danielle arrives. We work on schedules and lists but the big job today is getting the wi-fi up and running. Then the man from Maxwell Plumbing comes, yet again, and its back to the boiler, yet again. This time he wants to know, how many btu’s? He’s amazed by an original 1889 boiler that’s been through coal, oil and now gas. 

It’s begun to rain. Hard. I need to go move my car. I leave the plumber, see that Danielle is still struggling with the wi-fi. I borrow her umbrella.  On my way back, I encounter Marty.
“Reverend, I see you’re wearing a New York hat today..”                                                                         
 “Yes, today.”                                                                                                                                                    “So what does it mean, the 2-0, the 1-1?” he asks, looking at the numbers that flank the iconic interlocking NY letters.   A giveaway from my first game of the season.         
                                                  “That’s 2011, Marty, the 2011 season..”                                                    “Ah, I thought maybe it was gematria..”                                                                                                             I look puzzled.                                                                                                                                                             “The orthodox use it to try and stump the rabbi. You know, every letter has a numerical value, you find two verses with the same value, they come true. I thought a dedicated scholar, devout student like you would know that. It’s kabbalah.”                                                                                                             “You study that?”                                                                                                                                                  “No, even though my father was a reverend, a holy man, I went to public school, grammar, high school, college...say, you didn’t have services last week?”                                                                                 “Sure, we did.”                                                                                                                                                   "I saw a black man, come out of the subway, look around. He spoke to me. Headed down to the church on West End. You know they give you three days worth of groceries there...”                                                              Ah, Andre. Got there early. Couldn’t get in. Went to SPSA instead. “That was two weeks ago.”                                 “Ah, yes...I'm so glad you're here.Can you imagine? They wanted to tear this down. Put up a condo. How did they think they were going to get away with that? You take care, Reverend, have a good day..”  “You, too, Marty.” How indeed?
Back inside, Danielle has her hood drawn up over her head. Fingerless gloves as she types. Days like this, the cold soaks in, stays.  She  has finally established voice contact with a real human being. Within another hour, success!  We have phones, we have wi-fi. No heat. But phones, wi-fi!                                            

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