I walk to work and there is a quiet spot around 14th and Ninth at 7:38 in the morning. The Apple store is open but no one’s inside but a man sweeping around the large wooden desks. The vibrant restaurants are cold, stolid yet strangely inviting; like going home and finding an 80 pound tree trunk blocking your door. The cobble stones seem trickier this early or my hushpuppies aren’t the best choice for early morning walks or at 32 my ankles sleep in, but I’m always scared
to sprain something the moment I hurry.
At the midpoint of the intersection are slabs of rock shaped like knee-high rubix cubes. People talk on their cell phones here, ask for cigarettes, divvy out who’s sleeping with who in hush tones, but that comes later. Right now, it’s just the rocks.
At the very last point in my journey I see a man named Oscar. He’s usually watching the empty cabbies have coffee with one another, standing straight up with a tired look in his face. He’s tired because his job begins the moment the restaurant closes. He is the watchman. He stands outside the restaurant all night guarding the place from injury or plain vandalism. Running late one day, I grabbed a cab, shot over to work, reached for my wallet and realized I forgot it at home and Oscar lent me ten dollars. I keep thinking I’ll bring him something one day but I want to make it good. What would you want if you were standing for five hours outside the meat packing district from the hours of 3 to 8am? Gatorade? An egg sandwich with bacon and cheese? A red car that your son doesn’t play with anymore?
I do like walking to work.