Thursday, September 15, 2016

Queens County Revisited: The 1970's (76)

I can't recall much of what I did during lunch hour for the 6 weeks I was caged in the dictaphone-typist pool at the 100 Centre Street Manhattan Criminal Court building. Working in Midtown Manhattan gave you the option of spending part of your lunch hour in more branches of the New York Public Library, in the central New York Public Library or at the Donnell Library. In Foley Square near the Wall Street area of Manhattan, however, there were fewer branches of the New York Public Library that you could spend part of your lunch hour at.

After buying a hot dog from a street vendor for my lunch on most workdays, I may have spent the rest of my lunch our on only a few occasions walking up to the branch of the New York Public Library that was located in the south west side of Greenwich Village, browsing there for 10 minutes and then walking back to the 100 Centre Street courthouse. But during most lunch hours, I can no longer recall having done anything special when I worked there. Since I didn't start using each lunch hour on 9-to-5 workdays to write my Sundial memoirs of the 1960's manuscript text until the mid-1980's, I likely spent most lunch hours while working in the dictatphone-typist courthouse job just walking around or reading a daily newspaper I might have picked up out of a garbage can, or some paperback book that fit into my jacket pocket or back pocket. One thing I did do differently, though, during the 6 weeks I worked at 100 Centre Street was to take an elevated BMT route from Jamaica into lower Manhattan, rather than just take the E or F train from Jamaica, a number of times.

Before leaving work on the afternoon that I finally was handed, in the courthouse building, my first paycheck after 6 weeks by the dictaphone-typist pool supervisor, the African-American woman co-worker in her 40's, show had been friendly to me and who seemed, like me, to have only taken her job because she needed the money, then kidded me:  "Now that you finally got your first paycheck, be sure to come back to work next week."  Then we both laughed and wished each other a good weekend.

Of course, as soon as I arrived in my basement apartment in Jamaica on the evening of the day I deposited my first paycheck from the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse as a dictaphone-typist for 6 weeks, I typed up a letter to the elderly fellow who had hired me 6 weeks previously. Then I placed the letter and the photo I.D. that I had been given upon being hired by the personnel office of the courthouse, which showed that, as a courthouse employee, I had a legitimate right to go in and out of judges' offices and court work areas with manila envelopes without being questioned, into a stamped envelope, which I immediately mailed. In my brief letter, I indicated that "in order to begin working" at a "higher-paying position in the private sector," I was "regretfully resigning my position" as a dictaphone-typist in the New York County Supreme Court.

In reality, of course, I had neither a "higher-paying position" nor any regrets about resigning. But, given my moral objections to the role of the police, judges and local court system in 1970's New York City society, I just wanted to get the hell out of there--without giving them any indication that I was somebody whom the judges and D.A.'s, Red Squad and cops would likely label "subversive" if I honestly wrote about my moral and political reasons for quitting. 

Queens County Revisited: The 1970's (75)

Given the fact that I felt it was morally wrong and politically unprincipled for me to work in a New York County/Manhattan Criminal Court system that I believed was continuing to act as an instrument of political repression and human rights denial, on behalf of the white corporate power structure of New York City, in the 1970's, I quickly decided to quit the dictaphone-typist job as soon I was handed my first paycheck.

But during the first week of working in the dictaphone-typist pool, I was surprised to learn that, while the other dictaphone-typists were now each receiving their paychecks every two weeks or every month, a newly hired employee of Manhattan's Criminal Court, I had to wait 6 weeks before he or she was handed a paycheck. So I, thus, couldn't afford to leave this job until 6 weeks were up.

Luckily for me, the unemployment benefit checks that were long overdue for me arrived during the middle of the 6-week period when I was waiting for my first paycheck from the Manhattan Criminal Court/New York County Supreme Court job. And the money from the late unemployment benefit checks enabled me to come up with my half of the monthly rent for the Jamaica basement apartment that I shared with Barry again, only about a week after the rent was due.

Barry had, however, seemed to get a bit anxious when I didn't have my half of the $150 rent at the beginning of the month. So I telephoned a former camp co-counselor whom I had befriended during the Summer of 1970, with whom I had resumed my friendship a number of years later, after bumping into him while transferring from the 74th Street IRT elevated station to the Roosevelt Avenue IND stop in Queens one evening, as we were both coming home form work.

When we got together in the evening following this telephone call, I hinted to him that I was expecting an unemployment benefit check or a paycheck soon, but that I needed a small loan in order to pay my half of of that month's rent to get the anxious Barry, my roommate, off my back.  But when my friend--whom I had never asked for any kind of a money loan or favor before--seemed unwilling to help me out with the rent this one time, I realized that he really was just a "fair weather" friend; although I hid my changed feeling about our friendship from him when we said goodbye to each other outside my basement apartment in Jamaica. Queens.