"There’s something so sad, somehow, about seeing a middle-aged man, sitting in front of a receptionist’s computer…temping. Ready for action, dressed in his nicest shirt and tie, sitting quietly with his hands folded, watching the bustle of big business around him while he reads the morning paper. How did he get there? What string of bad luck led him to the point of seeking out temp work filling in for the receptionist at a medium-sized private equity in Santa Monica? How does he feel about it? Ashamed that he is forced to temp…or happy to have finally gotten the call for duty? I imagine him waking up at 6 every morning, showering and ironing his shirt and pants…and then waiting by the phone. Maybe he showers the night before, just to make sure he doesn’t miss a call? I want to smile at him, show him some friendliness just in case he is hating the fact that he is here right now, but he doesn’t look up from his paper."
I just found this little piece--I named the file simply "10-23" (October 23, 2007):
Today I counted down the minutes, as I do every day, until I could break free and suck some life back into my nearly lifeless, corporate body. When 6PM came, I cut my shackles and headed home.
What greeted me when I went out the door was not the usual unspoken unclean smog of Los Angeles, but something dirtier, heavier. My eyes felt itchy and dry. The fires, which had up until now been beyond my periphery, seemed ever closer.
I quickly got into Lainey and forgot about the air as I rocked to the Beach Boys on my Workout Magic playlist and got cooled off by my A/C. As I battled through Hollywood traffic, I wondered if it was bad to curse the GOD-AWFUL driver who happened to have the enormous “God Bless” Sign in the back of his car. Should that REALLY give him license to swerve manically in and out of lanes without signaling? I’ll have to meditate on that one.
As I drove up Cahuenga towards the freeway, I thought of little beyond getting into the left lane to get onto the 101. I missed it. Why ANYONE would INTENTIONALLY take Cahuenga past the freeway entrance is beyond me. It gets ridiculously backed up and takes 10 times the amount of time. I was busily swearing at the snail’s pace of the traffic (as the 101 traffic running parallel streamed steadily along) and not paying attention to anything outside, when suddenly I reached the peak of the hill.
The skies had been just dark up til now. It’s late October at 6:30, so I wasn’t questioning that point. If I had stopped to think about it, I would have remembered that yesterday wasn’t quite so dark…
But when I got that peak, I saw something odd. The horizon looked different. It looked like that silhouette time, that David knows I love so much. But this wasn’t the regular white-blue silhouette against the sky. These silhouettes stood against an orange-red sky, beneath the smoke, above the horizon.
I became breathless. I had to turn off Diana Ross on my iPod because I could not think of anything but this sight I was seeing and all that it represented. Suddenly I was reminded of all the lives that had been displaced in the last 48 hours; all the homes that had been built from hard earned money that were suddenly and cruelly burned to the ground. I realized that all of my money troubles, which I had brought onto myself, were nothing compared to the devastation that so many of my fellow Southern Californians were suddenly faced with.
I was at the stoplight at Barham, much sooner than I expected. There was a man there holding his cardboard sign, like so many other intersections throughout the city. I didn’t even look at the sign, but simply felt relief at the fact that I had cash in my wallet to give him. I needed to do something, anything, to help someone other than myself right then. I fumbled in my wallet and pulled out $2. I rolled down my window and the man said, “God bless.” Just like that fricking bad driver’s car.
I turned the corner and started down Ventura. The skies weren’t red anymore…they were just back to that same smoky black night sky. I really hope that guy buys himself a burger or a taco or something. How many drugs can $2 buy you on the street, anyway?