I like to consider myself a seasoned New Yorker. I like to think that I’m not easily fazed, and that I can walk the city streets without giving anyone a second glance. I like to think these things, but they are far from the truth. I am a highly evolved individual, and I can’t help it if I am curious.
Last week, while in line at the bank, I noticed a man wearing a beautiful suit on his body and a long, oily, braided rat tail on his head. It was a Tuesday at 10:00 AM, and I immediately thought:
“What sort of job could possibly necessitate the wearing of a suit and yet permit the wearing of such an outrageous hairstyle?”
= How the heck do you make a living???
I quickly ran through a list of possibilities in my head:
- Prison breaking consultant
- Exotic animal salesman
- Circus owner
- Treasure hunting venture capitalist
- Professor of quantum physics
- Spokesperson for the Hare Krishna
- Motivational speaker for the video game industry
I came to the conclusion that this guy was awesome, and that whatever it was he did for a living was probably something that I could get into. I had some time to kill, and so I decided to tail him for a little bit (pun intended).
After making his deposit, we walked north a couple of blocks and headed into a bodega. I rummaged through the Doritos, inconspicuously, while he bought a falafel. I analyzed this to be further evidence that I was dealing with a worldly individual, and the fact that he gobbled it down so sloppily – seemingly unbothered with the tahini sauce drizzling from his chin– led me to be almost certain that he’d spent time in the developing world, where napkins were a luxury he had learned to live without. At this point, I had to reconsider my initial question:
“What sort of job could possibly necessitate the wearing of a suit and yet permit the wearing of such an outrageous hairstyle and a face full of dried up tahini sauce?”
I could only think of one answer:
- One where he was the boss
I was becoming more and more enthralled with this guy, and so you can imagine my disappointment when we ended up at a used car dealership. This was far from the glamorous life I had expected for my new friend. I wondered why someone of such obvious aristocracy would choose such an average employment. It just didn’t make any sense!
After a few short moments of being utterly flabbergasted, I realized that I was being judgmental. Aside from the nightmares that Matilda had given me, I had never had any personal experiences with any person from this profession. Used car salesmen get a bad rap, and I was being that dumb sidekick kid that follows the bully around. I was being totally uncool. Who was I to say that this means of living was not worthy of the thrill and adventure that my new friend obviously demanded? For all I know, it could be the most exhilarating trade out there. After all, it can’t be easy. I mean, anyone with two feet and a talking mouth can sell a new car. But a used car, now that’s a challenge! It’s a risk! It’s a role of nobility, only fit for the lover of the underdog! Yes, I see it now!
As I watched my newest friend examine his teeth in a car’s windshield reflection, Emma Lazarus’ famous sonnet came to mind:
“…Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This man was doing for cars what America did for immigrants in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and that I can respect.