LETTER TWENTY-TWO

Henry,

Next stop, Beacon, New York. Gawd, nothing better than spontaneous, unplanned travel. I applaud you. I don't think there's any better way to remind ourselves that we choose to be in the places we complain about, at least to some extent.

You know though, the office job, it's, well, it's not so bad. I think it suits you, at least a little, and I don't intend that as a back-handed compliment whatsoever.

Daily I'm exposed to office culture in a way I've never experienced before (given that my previous experience was a bit of a failure), and, I'm not going to say I love it, but I'm starting to understand what people see in it. 

I guess I always thought an office had a cubicle, fluorescent lighting, repetitive paperwork, and the constant glare given off microsoft excel, malfunctional copy machines, bad coffee, and a micromanaging superior. And though these types of work places exist, these are the plebeian offices. 

Lately though I've been seeing the law firms, the consultancies, the marketing agencies, the investment firms, the—the dentists. Basically, the nicer offices. And I'm starting to see where they're coming from. What, in effect, attracts people to these jobs.

Today for instance was Casual Friday. Nothing makes me angrier than Fridays, Henry. Here I am sweating my balls off delivering paperwork in the finance district, while the rest of the business community decks out in golf tees and tennis skirts. Half the time I can't even deliver the package, being that their office is closed. They took the afternoon off, and forgot to notify the poor little courier.

The offices that are open are invariably in a festive mood, letting their hair down, so to speak, cracking jokes with the secretaries, muttering obscenities good-naturedly and so forth.

And the business culture, Henry, oh the business culture. Harry Rosen is all the rage, having two locations along Bay St. Their slogan, "There's only one Harry", bespeaks an entirely frank disregard for the truth. The slogan should actually be, given the universality of the suit—"There are many Harry's—You can be one, too."

It's not that I object to taking pleasure in one's appearance. Au contraire! Merely, the broad gulf between truth and claims made in these communities astounds me. I'm waiting for the hint of irony, but no luck.

Today I saw an office unlike any I've seen before, except in movies. The view overlooked city hall, (old and new). The shelves were lined with leather bound books. A carpeted staircase swept toward what appeared to be the loft of the tower, this being the highest level the elevator could take me. It was, like I said earlier, casual Friday, as announced by the banner mounted near the receptionist's desk––"It's Casual Friday! Casual participants have made a donation to the cause of our choice. WE CARE." 

And all this, housed in an unassuming, frankly, boring looking office building, judging from the exterior.

Which isn't to say, Henry, that I categorize you among the blessed Bay St angels. I remember where your office was last year, and it wasn't anything like Bay. I'm merely developing nuance, is all. Hell, in a manner of speaking, I'm an office worker myself—a member of the legions of unsung office worker heroes who keep the cogs turning, the paper moving, the elevators elevating, the coffee dripping, the property propriety properly appropriate—you get the point.

Not that all my time is spent in the banking district. Just that I'm restricted to the subway line. Willowdale is about the furthest abroad you'll see me go. And that, my friend, is God's Country. Detached single-storey brick cubes (more or less), rotting porches, knee high grass, all within throwing distance of that long file of gleaming 40-storey condominiums and office blocks stretching from Lake Ontario to Finch. Strange region, where the line between country and city dissolves, slightly, around the edges. Just slightly. Enough to disturb the difference between this thing and that thing.

But enough is enough! I hope you're not too lonely, down there in the Bronx. Even if you are, I bet part of you's loving it, solitude being something I've heard you speak fondly of before.

Always,

Sal

 

  • P.S. I've enclosed a recent train picture of my own for your pleasure. For non Canucks, if you look closely, you can identify where I am by the Summerhill train station visible in the distance.