Part 5 – Trains, Sidewalks and City Legs

My New Ride: the Old #7

My New Ride: the Old #7

Check out the view from my new commute! We had finally left the suburbs and moved to Jackson Heights, a 15 minute train ride to Manhattan. Car-less-ness, for me, was blissfulness.

Although the Chevy II was history, the Pinto had made GM’s recall list. Waiting for its number to come up, D. still drove it to work, hoping it wouldn’t get rear-ended and blow up.

Adding insult to injury, one of the Pinto’s hinge-challenged, bottom-heavy doors no longer opened. To exit the car, the passenger (yours truly) had a choice: either to roll down the window and hurl herself out legs-first  or clamber to freedom over the console.

aww, beep beep

aww, beep beep

For the most part, I hoofed it around the city, rode its astonishing network of trains , avoiding the role of car passenger as much as possible. I’d found a new job in Manhattan and the #7 train would take me there.

To qualify for my position as “psychometrist” — a fancy word for one who administers and grades psychological tests — I had to personally endure 5 hours of psychological and intelligence testing.

Ironically, the same battery of tests I had taken I was now administering to business professionals who were up for promotion — and sent to us by major corporations and brokerage houses.

A follow-up personal interview with one of the shrinks on staff would determine if these individuals were indeed worthy (or ruthless) enough to move up the company ladder.

(Regarding this practice, in retrospect, all I can say is: egads…)

Seventy-something Arthur was head shrink and elder partner. The rumor was he had only one testicle and that the other one had been shot off in WWII. This did not prevent him from meeting  a call girl named “Sari” at the Biltmore Hotel during his lunch hour.

The Biltmore was located next to Grand Central!

The Biltmore was located next to Grand Central!

I was the relief receptionist, so that’s how I knew. Because, occasionally, “Sari” would telephone  to cancel. And when she did, Arthur was hell-on-wheels for the rest of the day. Unless, of course, his 90 year-old mother telephoned to tell him how great he was.

His partner, Buddy, a 40-something married hipster shrink (who didn’t even bother getting a hotel room and just used his office), played “good cop” to Arthur’s “bad cop.”

Office manager, Tish, was the daughter of a retired famous sports figure who would churn out autographed baseballs on-demand for Arthur and Buddy — which they then used to bait new clients.

But, sadly, all good things have to come to an end. One day in 1979, Sid Vicious died of a heroin overdose. Our receptionist, Anna — a practicing witch, gun-owner, and groupie infatuated with Sid — totally lost it.

Her black-clad, stockings-rolled-to-the-knees, hair-in-a-bun elderly Italian mother telephoned the office to say that Anna had locked herself in her bedroom and was never coming out.

The next thing I knew, I was sitting in Anna’s chair answering the phones. That wasn’t what I had signed on for — so I quit.

Undoubtedly, another crazy  job would be waiting for me right around the corner. It was, after all, New York City.

What I Was Reading: Lots of “subway” books: Interview with the Vampire (Rice), The Other Side of Midnight (Sheldon), Jaws (Benchley), Helter Skelter (Bugliosi), Your Erroneous Zones (Dyer), Passages (Sheehy).

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