CHAPTER 1 Emerald city
At Kennedy airport, I stand impatiently in a crowded line waiting for a taxi. A long grey-bearded driver wearing a white turban finally pulls up, scraping his front tire on the side. His Director of Tourism tone pleasantly greets me, “Welcome, to biggest apple core in America.”
Smiling wide, exposing my some what straight teeth, I respond, “Never heard it described like that.”
“New York –big apple. Where you go to?” I give the location and he lifts my bags into his trunk.
Once I am seated in his tangy smelling taxi with gum stuck on the seat, he wastes no time racing to the iconic Triborough Bridge. He’s either trying to impress me with his professional skills or he’s giving me a New York normal. Either way it doesn’t matter because I can see the shimmering Manhattan skyline in the distance as we squeeze into bumper-to-bumper traffic, driving over countless uneven steel grates causing the taxi to shake as we cross the river to the emerald city. Goose bumps gently prick my neck because I know this will be the rockiest place to live; the most expensive, and the most competitive. Anxious sweat replaces goose bumps. Am I really prepared or just faking it until I make it, I ask myself. I roll the window down. Just breathing the unfamiliar scent of what I imagine is either dead fish or dead bodies mixed with my faint daisy perfume makes me feel what I imagine lots of young women must feel, we can be and do anything regardless of our fear, doubt, and lack of experience. Once off the bridge, he tears around corners past Chinese cleaners, Hispanic shoe repairs, and gourmet specialty shops—barely yielding at stop signs—and zooms at the highest speed possible through the Upper West Side neighborhood streets, all the way to my one-room furnished sublet.
Arranged, I meet up with my landlady Agnes, who will give me the keys. The driver pulls up to the right side of the street, where overflowing garbage cans block my passenger door from opening. I ask him to pull further away. He moves three feet forward, blocking another taxi from passing. That taxi lays on his horn. It’s awful because it sounds like a hammer trying to break down a metal door. I block my ears with my fingers.
I assume the middle-aged lady drinking a Corona standing on the stoop of an old brick brownstone in a cotton house dress is Agnes. She shuffles over to the taxi. I pay the driver and open the door. Agnes and my driver ignore the obsessive honking as he unloads my bags on the sidewalk. I find the sound unbearable and scream “shut up” to the line of cars stuck behind. Once my taxi moves, they all rush away.
“Save your energy—you’ll need it,” says Agnes. “Welcome to the Rotten Apple.”
I immediately feel that everybody has their own personal relationship with this city. That the city is a living breathing entity like a human with endless needs, and desires.
“Hey, you must be Agnes—so nice to meet you.” I extend my arm and shake her sweaty hand. Abruptly, she pulls it away.
“My, my you are sticky. ” She replies.
Trying not to react to her crazy response, “Quaint building. Have you worked here long?”
“I was born here, dear.” She points to an open window on the second floor.
“Always a pleasure to have a new tenant.” Her smile is a half frown making her face look like a sad clown.
“No complaining then.” She picks at her chipped red fingernail.
“Of course not,” I reply in a soft sweet tone to assure her that I am no threat. I head for my bags and struggle pulling them up the four exterior cement stairs to the entrance.
She cradles her waist. “I have a bad back—can’t help you.”
“I’ll manage,” I say. She unlocks the main entrance door and I pull my bags through the small lobby and plop them near the rickety wooden staircase.
“It’s a third floor walkup. You’re on the third floor. The good thing is the stairs aren’t steep and there aren’t many.”
“One step at a time,” I say.
“You girls are stronger than ever. It’s got to be either the hormones in the chicken or the birth control pills.”
I laugh. “I think it’s the chicken.”
She must approve of me now, because she affectionately hands me my keys. “You’ll need these: one for your apartment, one for the front door, and the mail gets put on the communal pedestal, over there.” I nod a thank you.
“This building has been in my family for 70 years. I live over there.” Agnes points to a poorly-painted forest green door.
“Nice to know you are close by.”
I lift one bag and pull it stair by stair up three dusty flights, and then I go back for the other one. Before I repeat my journey, Agnes says, “We’re the same size, more or less, and if there is a dress you don’t want, I am open to many different styles.”
“There’s clean sheets, but the pillows are not new.”
“I am good, thank you.”
Finally, all my stuff is on the third floor landing, and I take a breather before I enter my new home. I have to jiggle the lock a few times to open my door. The hot, stagnant air in the closed-windowed room smells like ancient wood. Immediately I go to the only window overlooking West 82nd Street and open it as wide as possible. I can hear birds chirp, and out of nowhere a yellow-winged butterfly glides by and lands on the open food containers on top of the garbage can. It is not intimidated by smell or disease—it is like me. I am here to change my life, and immediate gratification is not an issue.
The room is no larger then 580 feet and the kitchenette has an old stove topped with dented aluminum pots and pans, a small refrigerator, and a small dish cabinet with chipped glasses inside. The shower is small and stained. This is what I can afford. It is $1,699 per month and doesn’t include electricity. There is no air conditioner, so I assume the electricity bill will be low.
I slowly unpack and put away most of my clothes neatly in the single dresser. There are only rusty metal hangers, so I can’t hang up my dresses or blouses. I pile the hangers in the corner and do a mental buy list.
There is a wood-platform double bed with a few roaches running across it that I need to kill with Raid, and the two pillows are feathered, which is great, but are flat, with few feathers left.
My father calls as I am about to make my bed with Agnes’s worn flowered sheets. I put him on speaker so I can finish.
“Was it turbulent?”
“Smooth flight, Dad, how are you?”
“Not well, I can’t go to the bathroom.”
“Have you taken a laxative?”
“I don’t need them anymore. Stop telling me what I need!” His anger is seeping through like a bleeding ulcer.
“Okay, I gotta go, I have a meeting in ten minutes.”
“With who?” He anxiously asks.
“About what?” He is starting to bark.
“New job stuff.” I know my tone is more important then my words. I do my best to speak soft and slow to him.
“I’ll call you later. Pick up your phone. Do you hear me?”
“Love you.” He hangs up. There is a knock on my door. For a frightful minute, I think it’s my father.
Reluctantly I ask, “Who, who is it?”
“Agnes.” She says her name like a long-lost friend. Her rapid familiarity is off-putting, and yet, I am beyond relief it is not him.
“Come in, it’s not locked.”
“Use the lock at all times, do you understand?”
Agnes lets herself in. “I can’t vouch for all my tenants. Nothing surprises me anymore. It’s always the one you think is the nicest, sweetest guy who is the rapist, murderer, or mob boss. I am telling you, I had someone living here for six months who was a made man, you know, a mafia guy, handsome by all account but ended up headless. Really—you smile, but somebody cut his head off in Florida last year.”
“I understand—thank you for that advice.”
“Good girl—now this is what I wanted to say. I was an actress eons ago, of course you can tell, right?” She fluffs her hair and continues, “Anyway, I go to the theatre sometimes, and you can join me if you’d like.”
“I start a new job tomorrow, so I’m not sure what my time will look like, but it’s an awesome invite.”
“Yes, everybody is running here, running there, and what do they get in the end?”
“Not sure.” She opens up the closet door.
“I’ll tell you - two kicks in the ass!” She shuts the closet door hard and the floor boards shake.
“Love to join you if I can.” I walk on the same egg shells in the same way I do with my father.
She notices I haven’t used her rusty hangers sitting in a pile in the corner.
“You don’t like?” She asks.
“They are great but I’m gonna buy wooden ones too.”
“As you wish.” She stares out the window at a scruffy, tall, moth-eaten tree that partially blocks the light from directly hitting her three-story building.
“I hate that tree.”
“Old isn’t attractive.” She takes her hangers and leaves.
The last thing to unpack, laying flat and protected at the bottom of my suitcase, is my curated outfit for my first day at Fields Public Relations. It is my only article of clothing on my own wooden hanger. It’s wrapped in dry, clean plastic. I pull it open so it can breathe and I hang it in the closet.
The next morning, Siri and Google Maps help me navigate the five blocks to the Number 1 train. I keep wondering what happens to old people in this city. It must be brutal for them. I can’t get anywhere without walking stairs—lots of them—especially down below street level to the subway.
The platform is jammed with frustrated humanity. I overhear moans and groans about the trains being late and that the MTA is corrupt. There are few places left to stand. I lean up against a dirty wall and watch people struggling for two feet of personal space. I have never seen this before. I have taken space for granted. I will never again.
Several subway cars pass by, packed to their edge. I overhear that those are express and never stop at that station. Eventually a local stops in front of me and opens its doors. The car I get into has way too many vacant seats—as it turns out, because there is a sleeping homeless man who shat on himself and smelled up the train. The doors shut behind me. But now, there’s ample opportunity to sit, lay down, or roll over. I cover my nose and take the seat furthest away from the culprit. The train arrives at my stop and I stand up to leave. People desperately crowd my exit (before they sniff around and decide not to enter) and I still have to elbow professional, well-dressed people to get through the automatic door before it shuts on my body. As I reach the stairs up to the street, I smell myself, worried that the shit scent may have stuck to my clothes. By the time I see the daylight, I’ve learned my lesson, and from this day forward, I will make sure to not go into an almost-empty subway car during rush hour.
CHAPTER 2 - Welcome
Fields Public Relations was my first choice. They had won top awards for their work and were one of the hottest PR companies in the country. One of the conditions for the job was a motorcycle license, because they had just landed a few Harley dealerships as clients. I had nervously done several Skype interviews with Kim, the Vice President of Public Relations and Matt, the head of Human Resources. Kim, who looked about 38, super attractive but in a hard-edged way, had a team-spirit mantra. I lied and told them I had a motorcycle license and rode Harleys. Telling that lie should have terrified me, but I didn’t think about it as something serious. I figured I could make up another story when it came to the reality of riding. I’ll never get on another Harley, that’s for sure, and who the heck rides them in New York City, anyway?
Matt, who seems genuinely helpful and has been at the company longer than anyone, was super excited about my riding abilities and social media skills. They were impressed that I knew almost everything about their award-winning agency. What I did not know then was that working for Mr. Fields had been a game-changer in both of their careers. I am not sure what else separated me from the numerous applicants they interviewed, except the M on my fake driver’s license which would appear to be valid for many more years. In any event, here I was, as hired, in their Consumer Lifestyle Department as a Junior PR Executive.
When I had told my father I was moving to New York, he begged me not to go and hung the phone up on me.
The Fields reception area looks like a contemporary art gallery shrouded in greyish moisture clouds. It is on the 30th floor in a tinted glass monolith. Several colorful pop-art sculptures of geometric shapes sit on the floor and on the white-lacquered back wall is a framed, super-sized Harley Davidson poster of a group of Hells Angels with the caption: “WOULD YOU SELL AN UNRELIABLE MOTORCYLE TO THESE GUYS?” The small print next to the Harley Davidson logo reads: “We wouldn’t.” The poster is supposed to be provocative, but I find it stereotypical, and I immediately think if the guys wore Yamakas it would be a memorable ad for a slip-and-fall law firm—like the one Ira’s father ran. Ira was my only comfort after my mother killed herself. And in fairness, his dad had proven himself worthy of the DWI prosecution of the SUV driver who had walked away that night, thinking he’d only hit a deer.
Two summers ago in my Cleveland hometown of Shaker Heights, a few months before I transferred the 150 miles to Ohio State to complete my senior year, since my dad had become a full blown alcoholic, and often needed everything done for him—his bills paid, his house cleaned, his prescriptions filled, and someone to read his literary work aloud to—he had asked me to go to Staples and buy colored ink for his printer.
As I stood in line, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, and it was Ira.
Ira had been my boyfriend freshman and sophomore year while I attended community college, but he broke up with me because I wouldn’t fuck him. I never thought I’d see him again, and so happy to see me. The last day we had spent together was awful.
Remembering Ira’s four haunting words, “Take off your jeans,” makes me sick. I had playfully pushed him away, not knowing that what he said was not what he meant.
“Wait ‘til marriage. Isn’t that what you said over and over? That you wanted to be different than the other guys? That you only wanted to marry a virgin?”
“Just sayin’, we agreed to do it.”
“Then your body says yes. I’m not here for your convenience. I have needs. I’m done.” Then, he’d stormed out. He didn’t know that I would’ve slept with him many times over, but because I didn’t want to lose him, I didn’t.
I cried so hard—his love was conditional. That didn’t stop me from calling him way too many times after that, and when he didn’t call back, I texted—and he didn’t respond. I realized humiliating myself further would not get us back together, nor take away my longing for the validity and excitement I had felt with him.
Now, he looked slender and tan, but very tired. His eyes were puffy and red. His hair was windswept and he smelled sweaty, but clean. I had to decide then and there if I could let go of my disappointment and anger. And if I did forgive him, was I doing it out of desperation for his affection? I hadn’t dated anyone since him. Major self-respect questions confronted me as I felt his electricity piercing through me.
Saying nothing, I paid the cashier and waved goodbye, ignoring every impulse to forgive him. He sprinted after me. I felt him behind and turned to look.
“Hey, what’s up?” I was sincerely friendly, but very nervous.
“It’s an amazing day,” he said.
“Kind of a miracle. Normally it’s super humid,” I said.
“Do bikes turn you on?” He was trying to be witty, and I went along with it, because seeing him after all this time was intoxicating.
“Come, I want to take you for a ride.”
“Awesome.” I gushed.
His black Harley Softail that we had ridden everywhere, that I so badly missed, was parked next to my father’s banged-up car.
When he saw the depressing Honda, Ira asked me how my dad was doing, and I told him “fantastic” and lied that his novel was going to get published. I would never seek sympathy from anyone, especially him. Ira then asked me how school was going, and I told him great, because I had been accepted and was finally going to Ohio State in August. He congratulated me with sadness, handing me my old helmet that was still in his saddle bag. He put his own on without strapping it. Feelings of possibility and freedom flooded into me, as they always had each time I was about to ride with him.
Being appropriately coy, I asked, “Is this your girlfriend’s?”
“Used to be.”
“Do you miss her?”
“Oh…” The thought came in that we’re back to normal—we’re a couple again, except it would have to be long-distance, which was better than nothing. I put the ink cartridge in my purse and roped it over my shoulder. I tightened the strap of my helmet. Anybody passing at that moment paid us undivided attention because we looked great together. He got on and then I got on. He held the bike straight and slowly moved out of the parking lot onto the street. He hit it hard, and we were flying, not knowing where we were going.
The grease on the road was pungent, and I asked Ira if we could take a short ride through the country. The good thing about our town was that “the country” was only five miles away. We passed genetically-modified cornfields and freshly-painted white fences as we headed out to historic Chagrin Falls, which was founded ages ago and is still a Northeastern Ohio’s number one tourist attraction and a getaway. There, ancient waterfalls run under a bridge and corndogs and warm buttered pop corn are sold at the old-fashioned candy store across the two-lane stone bridge. That was the bridge he had kissed me on so many times before. I pressed my breasts against his sweaty back, warmed by the blaring sun as we passed our special place.
We stopped at a red light, and he caressed my thigh with his left palm. I didn’t move my leg away. I asked him if he would have left me after he had sex with me and he said it was possible if he didn’t like the way I moved. Then he laughed.
“You’re joking, right?” I asked.
“Maybe, maybe not. Ya ready to take a chance?”
“I’ll tell you at the end of the ride,” I answered playfully.
“Should we pull over and take in some face time?” he asked.
“At the polo fields.”
We continued another 12 miles down a curvy road about a mile from the fields when the SUV jetted out from a strip-mall parking lot. I heard him bellow, “holy shit” and we were immediately thrown off the bike. My head hit the inside of my helmet as my body smacked the ground. I imagined a large round pink airbag grabbing me, and softening the bloody impact. I could hear an unfamiliar inner voice advise me just breathe into the fall. Never had I heard that voice before. It was calm, maternal, and it came from some place within me. I could also hear real voices from real people gathering near, and an annoying siren in the distance. I wondered where Ira was, because I didn’t hear him. He was interested in accidents just like his father, surely he’d be front and center asking detailed questions. After all, we were crashed into, and it wasn’t Ira’s fault.
I looked over to the side to see why he wasn’t talking. My neck throbbed, so I couldn’t move my head all the way. I could smell the warm sticky asphalt. I heard people walking toward me.
“Is she alive?” a man asked, as he walked over to a woman standing over me. “Very much so,” I replied, as I discovered my voice was strongly intact. I felt a hand touch my hand.
“Rest,” the woman said kneeling over me.
Puffy clouds passed over the sun and my vision was clear. I peered into her eyes peering at me. “Is he okay?” I mumbled. I knew the paramedics had arrived because their medical walkie talkies were loud.
“Yes,” a paramedic reluctantly responded. I felt in that yes that he wasn’t. I had heard the tone before from the ambulance driver who arrived before my mother’s coroner.
“Am I okay?”
“Yes.” The tone was different. He told me not to move. But I wiggled my fingers and toes and lifted my arms. I tried to lift both legs and discovered only the right one worked.
“My left leg, is it still attached?” I asked, knowing but not feeling that was the side Ira had stroked with his strong hand.
“Could be broken,” the bad-breathed paramedic answered.
“There’s no feeling.”
“You’re in shock,” he explained.
The paramedic held my hand. I squeezed his tight.
“No. No. No. Oh my God, if we had stopped when…when he wanted.” I trembled, unable to release his grip.
I passed out. Stuck in the hospital for almost two weeks, I missed Ira’s funeral.
When they did surgery on my leg, they stuck permanent titanium pins in it to hold the shattered bones in place. The authorities told me that he died instantly of head trauma. His helmet was not attached and had fallen off. I remembered when I announced I was going away, he left the strap hanging loose. I demanded the strongest drugs possible, just so I couldn’t see the image of Ira’s disappointed face again.
I vowed to never get on a bike again. It was no longer a symbol of freedom. It was a symbol of punishment for wanting to have it all.
Taking deep breaths before I limp ever so slightly closer to the cherry-red lacquered reception desk, I am trying to forget what I just remembered.
The desk is manned by a partially blue-haired receptionist wearing a short -sleeved pink blouse. Feeling very appropriately appropriate in my semi-tight navy blue pants and white, short-sleeved silk blouse, I smile and announce, “Hi. I am Linda Storm and I’ll be working in public relations as a Junior Exec. I’m supposed to see Matt. Where do I go?”
“Hi, I’m Jenna Beck, and I don’t know.”
“Okay…well he did tell me to contact him when I arrive.”
“No worries. I’ll buzz.”
She is told by someone on the other line that I have to wait. I have no idea why I have to, and she doesn’t offer a reason, and I don’t ask. I do what I am told and take a seat on a soft, red-leather couch.
As each minute ticks by, my anxiety increases. Desperately, I try to stay calm by fumbling through magazines, but that only makes me feel like a victim of circumstance.
About five minutes after what I think is my draw-the-line moment, I am up and leaving before they reject me—then a voice kicks in telling me to relax, something must have happened. It’s not personal. I decide to take a further positive step toward my goal. I observe that the Jenna has many tattoos. She is also a proud multitasker. She answers calls, sorts mail, files her thumb nail, and scans whoever is walking off the elevator. She probably would enjoy talking about herself. Most people do.
Approaching her desk again, smiling larger then before, while pointing to two tattoos on her arm, I ask their origins. She proudly explains, “This bloody paw is for my dead poodle who was bit last year by a diseased skunk. The flower power is in memory of Woodstock.” She turns her back to me and pulls up her shirt exposing the lower part of her back, “The wings are in memory of Martin Luther King and Gloria Steinem.” “Believe” is written in deep purple gothic font on both her wrists. I don’t get into the reason because it looks like she tried slicing them and now they are bandaged by her mantra. “What’s that?” I point to a small character in a black hat and cape on the side of her neck. “It’s a spy cartoon from the 60s. I loved the 60s and 70s. Wished I had been living back then. The music, the style—and dude, everyone fought for something. Now there’s iPhone 9 and we’re overly entertained, kind of walking around feeling like something is going to happen, but we don’t know what it is.” It feels like another thirty minutes has passed as I stand listening and watching her cross and uncross her long thin legs.
“I love bell bottoms, too. Hey, is it possible to re-buzz Matt?” I ask.
“They had an emergency, sorry,” she replies.
“Should I come back later?”
“Up to you.”
“How much longer?”
Slammed with calls, she can’t keep me company anymore. Taking deep breaths I sit back down, staring at the loose cuticles on my fingers. Not having had any time for a recent manicure, I bite off the dead skin, chew it into particles then swallow it. By now, three stomach-linings worth must be in my body. Maybe another 15 minutes pass, and finally, a short blond-headed, big-breasted young woman enters wearing tight straight-legged blue jeans and a sheer black tank top that slightly shows the outline of her nipples. It reads, “Women look better on a Harley.” I stare at her top—it is not very professional, and yet no one seems to care. She announces my name: “Linda Storm?”
I hear it but can’t connect that it is me. Baffling questions, from “what job does she do at the company,” to “how does she have the guts to have her nipples stick out through the H of Harley and the b of better,” space me out. She asks the receptionist if Linda Storm went to the ladies room. Jenna points to me. I jump up and laugh. “Oops…I’m here.” She extends her slender arm and shakes my hand with her strangely pre-pubescent hand. “I apologize, they had an emergency. I’m Anna, Matt’s assistant. Mr. Fields’s assistant was just axed.”
I respond, “No problem, I understand.”
“We’re going to Mr. Fields office first.”
She leads the way down a wide hallway and my heels make a thumping beat each time they hit the wide, planked wood floor, sounding like I don’t know how to walk in heels. I try to lighten my strut, but I can’t.
“I sound like an army.” She smiles at my grimace.
“Just get them re-heeled, there must be metal poking through.”
Focusing on the inside wall covered with glass-framed editorial magazine coverage of their many accounts, we pass by a serious looking woman in her mid-60s—I assume this is Mr. Fields’s official secretary, because she doesn’t look up from her gatekeeper desk. On her desk is a small steel Harley motorcycle sculpture sitting on the edge staring at the closed door of her boss’s office. Their obsession with Harley is insane. I fidget with the slight tear on the sleeve of my special blouse as I stare at his closed door, knowing that once it opens, I am on my way to a brilliant career. I’ll have enough of everything to never have to wear anything that is too worn out again.
Opening the door to Mr. Fields’s office without knocking, Anna escorts me in. Plexiglass arrow sculptures in black and white hang from the ceiling. Standing up from behind a wide wooden desk that looks like a picnic table is a man in his late 40s, with a full head of black hair, wearing a white shirt and blue jeans. He walks over and shakes my hand. He is gentle and smiles with his eyes. He smells clean and natural. No heavy cologne or chemical scent.
Robert sits back down in his leather chair. Anna asks us if we want coffee or water. I say, “no thank you,” and he also declines.
“If there is anything else I can do, just whistle.” Robert smiles and has no shame staring at her ass as she leaves.
“Nice to meet you, Ms. Storm. I’m Robert. Kim and I are looking forward to working with you.”
“Thank you for hiring me. I’m very excited to be part of your awesome company.”
“Is Storm your family name?”
“No. It was Kleinman. My father changed it.”
“Why?” he asks, while staring deeply into my eyes.
“He likes destruction.” He smiles. I have said something that resonates. I stay quiet.
He blurts out, “Without it, you can’t have creation. How would you market the concept of a storm to your fellow Millennials? 62% of you say that brand engages them on social networks. 5.3 million of you are in the workforce.”
“Yeah, because we’re highly educated, and career driven, and politically progressive.” He declares, “I might also add, hyper-connected, optimistic, and artful multitaskers.”
“Aren’t we just wonderful.” I comment, trying to be clever.
Immediately, Robert is distracted by his secretary’s voice advising him that there is a conference call starting. He politely stands up to announce our meeting is over and states, “Before Lola gets here, you need to meet up with Matt and do all that paperwork bullshit.”
“Sure.” We shake hands. Matt and Kim hadn’t mentioned the name Lola before—I am wondering what she does here.
Anna winks at Robert when she returns to lead me down the hallway to Matt’s office. Matt is very feminine and bubbly. I assume he either cut his cheek shaving or he’s covering up a pimple, because he has a small, round Disney character Band-Aid hiding the spot. I sit down as directed in the chair opposite his desk and immediately Matt tells me he dresses like Miley Cyrus and goes to Karaoke clubs as he hands me form after form to fill out. He swishes and sways and lisps, and has a small Harley motorcycle sculpture on his desk. He points to it and says, “Maybe one day.” There is a massive comfort in knowing that I will never get on one again.
“Why, one day?” I ask.
He hands me papers to sign. Without reading a word, I sign away.
“I’m flaky, virtually nomadic, and a scaredy cat. People like us don’t easily ride.”
“Take lessons,” I offer.
“I prefer riding in Bentleys.”
“Does your assistant ride?”
“She only likes one bike.”
“Which one?” I ask, thinking he’ll list the different models.
“Shh…we have a don’t ask don’t tell policy here, I advise you to adopt it now. I had to, because I like to talk about other people. Ages ago, I interned for a gossip columnist at the New York Post who will remain nameless, but you can guess if you want. She didn’t think I could spin words as fast as she needed to betray my colleagues. So, I’m here. He treats me with respect and the benefits are stellar. Not many companies pay medical and have a 401K these days, we’re all blessed to be here.” He stands up and looks at me in the most serious way. I think he’s either going to reveal something more personal or a company secret. What he says next makes me smile.