Thursday, September 11, 2008

If I Only Had Rack

I'd be employed
But so single
They'd be payin' me to mingle
If I only had a rack

There'd be tippin' and some drinkin'
With some ever so light thinkin'
If I only had a rack

While New York may be an "at will" work state I have to wonder what it says about a society when federal equal employment laws are so flagrantly flaunted. The number of job postings I've come across that specify that the employer is only looking for females is mind-boggling. The number of ads that specifically reference Coyote Ugly is downright depressing. That movie has done to bartending what the movie Sideways did my dear friend Merlot.

While I'm the first to admit that gender inequality is part and parcel to the bartending industry, it's generally something that employers are savvy enough to express in subtle, less obvious ways than by outright saying that they're looking for a nice rack that probably won't spill the drinks. The friends I've made here simply chalk it up to New York having it's own way of doing things, which is fine up to a point. Leaving the trash all over the sidewalk, screaming at complete strangers, and cabbies that look at you like you've eaten one of their children if you ask them to cross the East River to name but a few. These are all fine and good as every city has it's own distinct personality (or complete lack thereof in some cases), but it's a sad statement on a town's sense of it's own importance when employers can't even be bothered to be clever about breaking federal laws.

On the plus side, it makes sorting out the coked-up scumbags a heck of a lot easier.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

A Quick Hop to the Other Side

It should come as no great shock to anyone that uprooting your life and relocating it nearly 3,000 miles is neither easy nor fun. The dust has finally settled as much as it's ever going to and I find myself living in a four story walk-up just across the East River from Manhattan, the City That Neither Sleeps Nor Shuts Up. I should be thankful that all of the furniture in my old apartment in Portland belonged to my ex-roommate as relocating from a spacious two-bedroom to a glorified efficiency studio has made things a little on the snug side. Throw Paulitico into the mix and it's been downright cozy. The one piece of furniture I did intend to ship was my Tempurpedic mattress, which I had every intention of being buried in (they're comfortable in ways that border on the profane), however Sunshine Shipping is composed of liars, cheats, near-do-wells and people of poor hygienic standards. A week after the scheduled delivery date a truck arrived at our temporary apartment bearing a cheap knock-off of the mattress I had sent, it was in completely different packaging and was such an obvious forgery that I wondered if they assumed I was too near-sighted to notice such a glaring change. I refused shipment and immediately embarked on the telephonic version of Theseus' descent into King Minos' Labyrinth, though instead of a fearsome minotaur at the end of my troubles I received the sad news that the shipment form I'd signed had contained a microscopically written liability clause making the shipment company liable for 8 cents on the pound. Receiving an $8 check for a mattress that cost nearly $2,000 is poor consolation at best.

If the move hadn't already exhausted me financially I'd have taken these thieves to court, but as I am made of bones and easily-bruised flesh instead of money I've had to enjoy the bitter taste of being professionally robbed as a tonic to lull me to sleep each night on my borrowed Aerobed. My only hope is that the people responsible die in a fire at some later date.

Aside from the inevitable casualties of moving (I'll miss you most of all broken bottle of lube) the transition from the West to the East has been... interesting. Everything here is cramped to the point of being claustrophobic, the entire populace of New York City could very well be raging agoraphobics and never know it. The City is also loud in a way that I'd become unaccustomed to living in my sleepy neighborhood on the east side of Portland. People are well-acquainted with their car horns here, often I'm pressed to decide if the person is suffering from near fatal road-rage or has just fallen asleep on the horn. The bars and restaurants almost exclusively use cheap plastic awnings to advertise themselves on the streets such that no matter where you go you get the impression you're entering a 99 Cent Store. That illusion is quickly shattered when you see the prices on food, feeding this many millions of people so far removed from viable farmland comes at a hefty fee. Though there is a definite green movement in New York, the limits of what can be accomplished this late in the game are akin to adding a few more sandbags to your seawall when you hear that a tidal wave is soon to crash upon your shores. The effort is appreciated but the end result may leave something to be desired.

On the plus side, there are so many different nationalities represented that I am reminded on a daily basis how large our tiny planet is and how necessary it is that we all find common ground despite our lingual and cultural barriers.

Final thought of the week: In a city where everyone is a stranger, can anyone really find a place to belong?

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