Got here maybe a half hour earlier than usual. Nobody here. I could work this shift if I asked nicely. The overnight. I might have been wired for that in earlier years but not anymore. It’s also hard to get. Folks on the overnight are locked in to that shift. Not giving it up. When I applied here I imagined that all the new hires would get stuck on overnight as punishment for being new. I forget what we called it in high school. Was it initiation? A kind of good-natured hazing of incoming freshmen, though it often exceeded most standards of “good-natured” and could get pretty abusive. I, for one, feared Freshman Initiation, though I recall no specific horrors from that period. Did we have to wear beanies the whole year or just the beginning? I’m referring to high school here, not the job at which I work presently. No beanies here. Some kippas and other kinds of head and face coverings but no demeaning beanies.

I let myself be present today as I performed the diurnal trek to the place of work. A man had a corner of the subway car all to himself because his enormous bags of recyclable cans and bottles took up most of the space, and because a squall of his piss spread from the bottom of his leg to the floor around him. I don’t know how people sleep like that, on a roughly-riding subway car with his head bouncing around and hitting the wall. But he seemed to be totally noc. I took a seat in this area, careful to remain untouched by the piss and not at all concerned with anybody’s position in life. I saw others gazing upon him, seemingly with sympathy but that could just as easily have been derision and disdain. I estimated his bags full of cans and bottles to be worth as much as $3.

Earlier I bought strawberries at the produce market on my block. The clerk there seems to take special notice of me, remarking, no matter what time of day I come in, that I like the strawberries. He sometimes blurts out words and noises that sound like hyena-speak. Today he saw me fumbling with the containers of strawberries placed in front of the store and he yelled out at me “BOSS!” He pointed at the strawberry containers he had on the counter inside, implying or perhaps stating outright that I should purchase from that selection, not the containers on the shelf out on the sidewalk. Was he directing me to the fresher batch? I tried to ask but something about the noise in the shop makes it impossible for my soft voice to reach audibility. As I consume to strawberries now my verdict is that this is a pretty fine batch, no doubt among the best I’ve obtained since making the move to a mostly-strawberry breakfast format. I also go with plums and peaches and other messy edibles. At the end of eating the 16 ounces of strawberries the napkins look like they’ve absorbed a bloodbath. I could thank the produce store clerk for taking care of me by directing me to the fresher product. Maybe I will.

Cool air blew over me as I exited the Fulton Street station at about 7:25am. It was a welcome respite from the brief period spent in the elevator, a confined space, with the tartly acrid stench of piss. It could not have been more than 15 seconds from entering the elevator to exiting, but that small amount of time was enough to set my mind into thinking this exposure would saturate my clothing and leave me smelling like a piss bomb the rest of the day, or for the rest of my life. In fact I smell fine. Finer than fine. I smell like golden buttocks.

I know not why but I feel good today. That will likely change as the mechanics of the job encroach upon my air, sucking it away and curling around me as a skull contains its brain. I dreamed exotically about sex with an ex. She had changed. No longer a slave to monogamy but also not promiscuous. We fucked like the old days, with a few new flourishes I’d picked up in the years since we bitterly parted ways. I could tell she wanted to ask “Where did you pick that up?” but she wisely demured. In the past she would be horrified when I did something that, as she filled in the backstory, I learned from another woman. Not in this dream. Too bad it was all a dream. Then again, I do not even know what she looks like anymore. My mother was present. This all occurred in a public space, I think it was a mall, with some of her friends watching and commenting. My mother was present in the place but unaware of and uninvited to the spectacle of two old lovers publicly getting in on one more time after many years apart.,

What to do tomorrow? Where to go? I considered Soundview but remembered how I wanted to revisit the 4 train subway phones after spotting the Fordham Road phone two weeks ago. But I could also stand to revisit New Jersey. I have not left the five boroughs since probably December of 2021. What of Connecticut? Where to go there via relatively easy mass transit?

It is Saturday. I like my Saturdays here. I get a corner all to myself. I don’t talk to anybody here on most Saturdays. Nobody talks to me, either. It works. I feel like I own the place, which I know is absurd. These clean, nubile feelings would be appropriate if I was in my 20s. Or is it fair to feel these ways now? I’m not that old. I don’t feel old, most days at least. I don’t fuck old. I don’t know what is appropriate, I guess I am broadly guilty of age shaming myself, and probably others. It is endemic to our society. That sterling specimen of humanity whose submersible imploded on him had a specific bias against men in their 50s, declaring us “uninspiring” or something like that. Not inspirable? I’m still inspired by things. Yes, I am. Gotta go now.