PROVIDENCE & PIZZA
‘Five days ago I wrote a post about an emergency housing situation that someone notified me about. A friend of mine had been worried that the church she was staying at was going to be shut down because of the theft of a high value item. I ended the post with no word back that things were ok, but a feeling that everything was going to be all right.
Well mine is a work-based faith and so I’ve moved into that very same church to make sure everything works out. Perched atop a balcony looking over a cavernous room half a football field in size, it’s a big space to unpack your thoughts. Occupiers sleep among the pews below like wolves in a den. Some of these wolves have pissed on crosses. Some of these wolves have damaged church artwork. Some stole the pastor’s laptop. And some of the filthiest, mangiest of the pack stole the cover too the church’s baptismal, dumping out the water in the process. Water that came from the river Jordan.
A pack of animals. Or was it animal, as in a lone wolf? I don’t know, but I have noticed a change in my demeanor and writing over the past couple days. I’m out of my funk, or at least can see the light at the end of the cave. I’m regaining my faith.
Which means I’m also back on the warpath.
By the time I finally get to sleep, I realize I don’t have a blanket. Luckily, the trusted Titans blue duffle is packed with clothes. So I layer up and bed down for the night among the yacking wolves.
Oh yeah, we had a great action yesterday, “Occupy the Courts.” Hundreds if not a thousand people marching on city hall. Only yelling and marching outside at this time of year isn”t always the best for your health, and now we have a church full of sick people.
So I go to sleep to the smell of vomit and the sounds of wretching, huddled on the floor like an animal, wondering just what I”ve gotten myself into.
“They want protesters, but they don”t want to deal with them when they get sick.” This from a sniffling occupier standing with me outside of the upper west side church we”re staying at. It”s Saturday morning and it”s snowing. There are competing holes growing in both my shoes, a pair of canvass slip-ons I picked up from the donation pile back at the park. I make a brisk, light path to the downtown subway.
It still amazes me that I lasted even two years in the army the way I inherently despise authority figures. For example, I can”t just walk into the public atrium at 60 Wall Street and clean up the miscellaneous garbage (food trays, bread bags, etc) that I know are the left over clutter from our movement using this space as our unofficial meeting grounds.
No, first I have to mess with the security guards. “Who the fuck is in charge of cleaning this place?” I demand, walking up to a group. “It looks like a shit hole.”
“That ain’t our job” one of them mutters and I stare at him like he just got himself fired.
“Get me a fucking trash bag, it takes 15 minutes, Christ.” And I storm off without waiting for a response, finding my own bags at the bottom of a trash bin across the atrium.
Fuck ”em. If they”re going to bullshit all morning in a filthy environment while they”re getting paid and I”m going to improve this space for free, I might as well call them out. As I glance across the room, one security guard is still looking for a trash bag.
There we go man, take some pride in ownership. But then, you only feel embarrassed for being called out as being lazy. You don”t feel ownership of this place, or the commons in general. You just feel the comfort of an easy job with a reliable paycheck.
I feel that my socks are wet.
The righteous man shall be provided for, I”m almost positive that”s in the bible somewhere. But then, what about the self-righteous? Aren”t they just begging for their comeuppance? Do we live in a world of plenty, where my needs will be taken care of if my intentions are pure? Or do we live in a dog eat dog, wolf eat wolf kind of world?
Catching up on the Sysiphian task of daily blog postings in J&R electronics, my faith is affirmed. A worker in the balcony cafe of the electronics store reminds me that the public computer terminals are for just 20 minutes of use, and I”ve been there for a couple hours now.
To be completely candid, I didn”t need the reminder. I kind of knew I was abusing the system, worse that I hadn”t purchased anything. Zero cash economy man, will blog for food, not really working out yet. But then I overheard a couple seated behind me discussing Occupy Wall Street. My belief in providence leaped into action.
I couldn”t help but overhear…Here”s a copy I happen to have of our declaration…of course I”d appreciate a coffee!
The worker scowls at me as I walk back to the computer terminal. He better believe his team member ass that I”m going to milk this cup of coffee for at least a couple more hours.
But trading pamphlets for coffees is not true providence. No, I need a bigger test. I have to encounter my proverbial angel to earn what Jacob earned when he was granted the name Israel: I have to wrestle my own blessing from fate. But then, didn”t Israel come away from that struggle permanently crippled?
The scene is Papa John”s Pizza in the Financial District. I asked the manager earlier, around 7pm, if he had any extra pies available. You see, I”m from occupy, we have a GA going on right now, I worked for you guys a long time ago, I know sometimes there are some orders that aren”t picked up, pies lying around. He waved his hand in what I originally took as an “I”ll take care of you” gesture but I”m starting to realize was more of a “fuck off” kind of wave.
It”s approaching 8pm. I”m not leaving without my pizza.
I”m willing this act of charity to happen. I don”t ask again and I don”t smile. I sit patiently as the customers enter and exit. I get faked out by a small cheese I think is intended for me and grin, but then it”s back to all business. I haven”t eaten all day.
It takes them the better part of an hour to finally decide to send a small cheese my way. It”s almost a Pyrrhic victory as I burn my tongue on the hot greasy goodness in my haste. I imagine my victory speech: “You own the companies but they work for us, if we”re only brave enough to ask for their help.”
I consider the gooey little disc my trophy. I imagine myself the proudest person boarding an uptown train that night.