Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Freewheelin' In The Bronx 1971 (xxvi)

Since the night supervisors were apparently themselves afraid to wait for the bus in the South Bronx neighborhood at the bus stop near Hunts Point Terminal Market, they assumed that I would be grateful if they gave me a lift in their car to Fordham Road—which was on the way to their own home in a more affluent Bronx neighborhood—after work each night. But in the Spring of 1971 I was used to taking buses at night in neighborhoods like the South Bronx. So rather than feeling grateful for getting a lift home from them during the first week I worked at Hunts Point Terminal Market, I felt more that my hours of work were being extended; because I was also being subtly pressured to sit in the car with these night supervisors beyond the hours I was compelled to be with them for pay.

Once the night supervisors saw, however, that I was becoming friendly during the night shift work break with the more intellectual older worker and former radio announcer that they were hoping to replace, as my first week on the night job progressed, they apparently also quickly decided that I certainly wasn’t the night clerical worker they were looking for; especially since I seemed to be quickly forming an alliance and friendship with the older worker they had wanted to dump.

So when I reported for work on the Friday evening of my first week as a night clerk at the Hunts Point Terminal Market wholesale firm, I was handed a paycheck for 5 nights of work by the woman supervisor before work began and told that I was “no longer needed” on the night shift because “I hadn’t picked up the coding and batching system fast enough.” Although I didn’t think it was very fair to dump me after only a week, without really giving me a chance to learn what I was supposed to be hired to do, I had already become ambivalent about whether it really made any sense for me to not quit the night job trap as soon as I could. So, inwardly, I actually felt more relief than surprise, shock, anger or disappointment when I was suddenly informed that I was getting the axe so quickly from this night clerical job.