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I am...a New Yorker
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Friday, December 13, 2002
Composing Missives
Sidebar

Gleaming?
My teeth, after a thorough cleaning.

Reprimanding?
My dentist. I haven?t been flossing.

Amusing?
The action figure of the elf who wants to be a dentist, from ?Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer.?

Bringing?
My lunch, but leaving it behind at the place I picked up breakfast after the dentist appointment.

Eating?
Half a bag of pistachios and an orange, from my holiday gift from the rabbi.

Reading?
Reading for my home-based business course.

Printing?
My business cards, finally.

I am...up to my eyeballs in irritation with certain people.

Dear Mr. Mayor,

A photo opportunity at a bicycle shop is an incredibly clueless, token gesture of concern over the looming MTA strike. I don?t need a billionaire telling me to buy a bike. Why don?t you buy me a bike, Mike -- if you want me to have one so badly? I can?t imagine riding a bike in Manhattan on a regular day, let alone amid the inevitable traffic snarls in the wake of a transit strike. Where will we store all of these bikes at home and at work?

You know, when I met you at that fundraiser in January and you stuck out your hand and said, ?Hi, I?m Mike Bloomberg,? I thought you were a reasonable, down-to-earth, little man.

I just want to be able to get to work, so I can keep a roof over my head, which, as most of us in New York (yourself excluded) know has become increasingly difficult. The last thing the city needs right now is a transit strike. Are you going to come to my building and cook my meals when the staff can?t get in from Brooklyn and the Bronx? Are you going to provide extra school buses for high school kids who attend classes in boroughs other than the one in which they live?

The MTA is the lifeblood of the city. I cannot think of another place on earth that relies as heavily on its public transportation system as does New York. Hey, I?m one of the lucky ones. I can leave an hour early and walk the two miles each direction to work, praying we don?t have snow like last week or pouring rain like Wednesday night. Hell, I only wish I still worked at the record company, it?s only 12 blocks away.

But in the end, you have to learn this thing called compromise. As an MTA passenger, everyday I see what a difference it makes when people are cooperative versus when they are unwilling to look beyond their own needs or desires. I know it?s a novel concept, but the other 8 million of us don?t have a chauffer.

Sincerely,
Erica Jackson
New Yorker

: : :

Dear TWU President Toussaint,

So the way to a 24% (over three years) raise for Transit Workers Union Local 100 members is to tell the mayor of New York City to shut up? Why didn?t I ever think to tell my boss to shut up? Then, perhaps I would have received something beyond the standard 2% and 0.5% raises I received at my last two jobs, let alone the 0% raise at my current job. Heck, if I?d raised the stakes to ?fuck off,? perhaps I would have been promoted.

While I appreciate that the union has decreased its demands to 18% over the same period, the demand remains extraordinarily unrealistic in the current economy. Even in 1998-2001, I don?t know anyone who received that kind of increase. The rest of us are lucky to get a 5% increase in a good year. Indeed, at this time of year, many New Yorkers are receiving neither raises nor holiday bonuses, but layoff notices.

Recession. September 11. Impending war. Perhaps you?ve heard of them? The city is broke. Riders are broke. Where is the money supposed to come from? The sky?

Times are tough in this town right now. I ask you to be reasonable and realistic. MTA is a vital service for the city and, while I have faith that many New Yorkers will roll up their sleeves, put on their sneakers and get to work, I am afraid that necessary services -- hospital, fire, police, bagel carts -- will suffer as a result of the strike.

I would also like to remind you of the proliferation of personal computers, laptops and other telecommunications equipment in the 20 years since the last MTA strike. Since many jobs in New York are in the service industry or administrative, many of which can be performed remotely. While I do not yet know what my company plans to do in the event of a strike, it is not out of the realm of possibility that many of us could work from home.

In the early '90s transit workers striking in San Francisco (Marin county) discovered the hard way that no one gave a shit when they stayed home. That may well be the case for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. You might not be in as strong a bargaining position as you think.

In short, please come back down to earth, where I am sure a reasonable compromise exists. Holding the city hostage, however, is really bad form. New Yorkers have plenty of other things to worry about right now.

Aggravatedly,
Erica Jackson
Disgruntled Rider

P.S. What an especially nice touch having the contract expire in December. Very Machiavellian. I suppose August would be worse.

: : :

Dear HR lady,

So, what?s the policy going to be next week? And, if I have to walk to work, will my Transit Check deductions, due to start this month, be held off until the strike is resolved?

Thanks,
Erica
Program Department

: : :

Dear Wealthy Pranksters,

Now is not the time for this bullshit. I presume you were trying to make a point about security in New York, or lack there of. However, if you have the funds to have three dozen black boxes printed with the word ?Fear,? and people free from work obligations in the middle of the day to place them in a major subway station, then perhaps there are better uses for your resources.

If I find out this is some kind of stupid ass marketing ploy, I will personally acquaint you with the concept of fear.

Fuck off,
Erica Jackson
Village Resident

: : :

Dear President Bush,

It's about U.S. hegemony, stupid! Nuking Iraq will hardly solve America's problems, foreign or domestic.

Regards,
Erica Jackson
American

: : :

Dear Building Administrator,

I thank you for the beautiful decorations, carols and delicious holiday dinner last night. Please thank Santa again for me; the lovely make up bag and make up are luxuries I could not afford on my own right now.

However, I would very much appreciate it if staff treated residents with a modicum of courtesy every day. I don?t think that?s so much to ask for in return for $1000 a month. I know that?s a pittance compared to market rents in New York, but I spend most of my waking time working to earn it.

I ask that you and the Mrs. would come out of your Bible-banging bubble more often, so you would see what transpires in our building. Time and again, non-abusive staff members have been fired, harassed or quit in frustration. With each loss, the building becomes less of a home.

Thank you again for making the effort to create a warm, festive environment for those of us who are so far away from our friends and family. It is not that I do not appreciate your efforts, but that they only serve to heighten my awareness of the respect that is missing on a daily basis. Had I not been working 60 hours a week during my first 6 months here, I would have been more aware of the situation and moved out when I could afford it.

This building was and continues to be touted as a safe place for single, working women. Not only are meal and event hours not geared toward women who work, but male staff seem to regard residents as their own personal dating pool. I have to put up with unwanted sexual advances all day, all over the city. I should not have to tolerate where I live; our building is supposed to be a haven.

Best wishes,
Erica Jackson
Room 1202

P.S. Thank you for praying for wisdom for our President. If only he could go to Oz and ask the Wizard for a brain.

: : :

Dear Cafeteria Guy,

My name is not "baby," nor is it "boo." You know my name, and if you forget, "miss" will do. Please stop making comments to other staff about my generous ass or what you?d like to do with it. This is where I live, man.

Irritatedly,
Miss Jackson, 'cause you're nasty

P.S. And your pregnant wife is 20 feet away while all this is going on. Honestly!

: : :

Dear Other Cafeteria Guy,

When the building is understaffed and you are serving instead of washing dishes, please refrain from asking for the "next case." I am a resident, not a ?case.?

When you request our dishes at the end of the meal, you call us "ladies," but you treat us as anything but. Also, while I too look forward to Friday night, I don?t have the slightest desire to hear about how you "just got paid, gonna get laid."

Please keep the extraneous information to yourself, for the love of all that is holy.

Disgustedly,
Speaking For All of Us

: : :

Dear Woman at the Front Desk,

I find it amusing that you have your eyebrows so expertly waxed. It adds emphasis when you sneer at residents.

Please advise what planet you are from on which the response to my ringing the doorbell three times is not to apologize for not letting me in the first two times, but to reprimand me for ringing more than once. Obviously, it was not the joy of my life to have to do so, but it was raining for goodness sake.

The reason the door buzzer is on a remote control is so you can take it with you, whether you are chatting with a friend or surfing the Internet, or, as was the case the other night, both.

I can make faces, too.

Unpleasantly,
Room 1202

: : :

Dear Bagel Cart Guy,

Perhaps, instead of flirting and asking stupid questions you think are charming ("For here or to go?"), you could shut the fuck up and listen. Then I wouldn?t be sitting here, hungry, staring at a bag containing a cinnamon, raisen bagel, instead of the plain bagel plain that I asked for.

Hungrily,
Woman who is interested only in your bagels

: : :

Dear Rabbi Boss,

I miss you. It?s quiet around here without you. I didn?t find the bag of peanut M&Ms until Thursday, people were chomping at the bit.

Thank you for the citrus fruits and nuts. We all loved them. The oranges went particularly fast. I can use the pecans when I do my holiday baking this weekend.

I hope you like your Hanukkah present.

Thank you again and hurry back,
Erica


P.S. I had no idea how to arrange the books with Hebrew titles only. I'm just hoping for right side up.

: : :

Dear Therapist,

First you tell me I'm not talking enough about the horrors of the past and insinuate that I?m talking about things that bother me now to avoid dealing with the hard stuff. Now you tell me that I?m focusing on the past. Well, which is it?

You're the therapist. I've never successfully completed therapy, of course. I hope you have. I don?t know what will help me stop having nightmares and flashbacks or be better able to pursue my true calling while still able to support myself financially. That's why I'm going to see you. If I had the answers, I wouldn't be wasting my money.

I want to get better, of course. If I'd had the physical and emotional problems of the last year for the last 10 years, I would not have been able to cope. Something about September 11th triggered the sense of terror I felt for the first 21 years of my life. I want to find a way to resolve this, but criticizing me for working at jobs I hate to survive isn?t helping me make progress. It?s only frustrating the fuck out of me.

I'm sorry I didn?t have the luxury of a mommy and daddy who paid for my education, I'm sorry I made a poor choice of colleges based solely on financial concerns, and I'm sorry I have never had the luxury of job hunting for 6 months, instead of taking the first thing that came up. Yes, all of that is frustrating. But, at the end of the day, I need a roof over my head and money to pay you.

And please don't just take the easy, obvious road of low-self esteem. That's pop psychology at its worst. I never said I wasn't brilliant or talented or any number of wonderful things. That has never been my problem. Turning all of that into something that this society will reward financially, however, is something about which I understand very little.

Instead of pop psychology or asking me questions about the present or the past and then saying I should talk about the reverse -- can we focus on what will help, please?

Having just lost $5k in salary, a week's vacation and going from health insurance that covers 60 visits a year with no copay, to 20 visits with a $25 copay ($100 per month), I dont have time or money to waste.

Crazily,
Erica

: : :

Dear NYU advisement,

I have been thoroughly impressed with NYU's commitment to adult learners, not just in terms of evening and weekend courses offered, but also with admissions open houses on evenings and weekends.

However, I am incredulous that there is not one evening or weekend appointment for academic advisement. Please don't keep telling me that I need to take time off of work before I can register for every semester to "make a commitment" to return to school. Please do not tell me I should defer my admission to next fall. I will still, I think, have a full time job next fall. And next spring.

While my employer has been exceedingly cooperative and flexible with my schedule, I don't want to push it.

Confusedly,
Erica Jackson
Class of 2006

: : :

Dear NYU Registrar,

Please advise other departments of the change of address and telephone number I submitted in July, so everyone will stop calling my mother in California.

Thank you,
Erica Jackson

: : :

Dear CUNY financial aid office,

Could someone either pick up the phone or return a call, please? I have called everyday this week, this is ridiculous.

I just need someone to explain why, at the age of 31, suddenly my parent?s income is being requested on my financial aid form. Also, please illuminate me as to why you TAP application records reflect that I have been and will live with my parents in the coming academic year. The commute from California would be a killer, even without the looming MTA strike.

Frustratedly,
Erica Jackson

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