Last Friday my payroll problems resumed. I awoke at an early hour, the usual 5:00am wake up call from hell. As I shuffled off the celestial movies and returned to my all too human cumber-body, I knew that today would be a make or break day. It was the road split in the center. It was payday. Two things could happen this day. One, I would get paid and all would be well with the universe. Two, I would not get paid, or get paid incorrectly, and the wrath of God and his righteous anger would split me asunder.
I decided to get right with him immediately. I figured if I did absolutely everything by the book that by the time I checked my bank account I would know the truth. HE would reward me with a flawless, perfectly resolved payroll resolution. Yes, that's it. I did everything the way I thought he would want me to. I even Daven for the deceased. I prayed ceaseless prayers for the meek and unfortunate, I meditated to Sai Baba for a good thirty to forty minutes, sans incense but with candles. I listened to my Deepak Chopra tapes and Marianne Williamson Cd's. I surrendered! There was no doubt that I had broken the curse of LAUSD and the BTS.
When I phoned the automated "Stellar Teller" system at my Aftra/Sag Federal Credit Union branch, I got the nice woman with the pleasing voice. I entered all the pertinent data and finally got to that mornings deposit. I waited, expectantly, for the wonderful information, with thoughts of zeroes bouncing in my head. "Hello, Mr. Forkush, you have...." Ah, here it is..."$800.00 deposited to your account".
Hmmm, let's see, 131 hours worked at $17.80 and hour works out to about...hmm...two thousand one hundred eleventy something. Eight hundred dollars...okay that's a...let's see...before taxes then deduct 403b and Cal Pers retirement and they deducted....ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS BEFORE TAXES.
I was struck on the head by a brick falling from the proverbial ceiling. My face twitched violently and I coughed, rather heaved, a gasp of despair. "Wha Da Fug..."? I re-punched the numbers thinking there may have been multiple deposits. "$800.00 Mr. Forkush. Thank you. This has been a recording". My cat started to shit in the litter box and rip up the newspaper on the floor underneath it.
No. This can't be. Mustn't be. Shouldn't be. I prayed the prayer for the dead. I ate no fat, only lean. I surrounded the apartment with the Soundscapes channel from Time Warner Cable, the one with the gentle soporific sounds of the soul. All was well. I did "The Secret". I really believed. Didn't I? I did thought. Right?
As I began to experience the recent symptoms of anxiety that is grinding my life to a halt, I staggered to the kitchen to make coffee. My breathing became shallow, my heart rate escalated to tachycardia levels, the left side of my face became paralyzed and my legs weighed a ton. How can this be? Things can't get any worse. The stress can't get worse. I won't survive it. I am being crushed into pesto with no place to hide. Oh God, please help me, help me not to drink, or drug or....go completely insane, driven mad by intolerable panic anxiety symptoms that actually could be the early strains of a nuclear stroke or Myocardial Infarction.
Where's the Atavan. I need the Atavan. No, mustn't take it. Must get through this like all gentile people do. Gut it out, Tony. Take it like a man. Buck up old chum.
Thus began the day I will never forget. The day when the children of Cesar Chavez roamed the streets and the hills of Hollywood burned as a hundred disenfranchised employees of LAUSD and I sat in the rancid lobby of the Beaudry building waiting to get paid. As I sat in that lobby, I looked up and saw a trio of balloons wafting from the ceiling. On their front were the words "SEIU LOCAL 99: WE'RE ALWAYS THERE FOR YOU". I looked around. Not a single union rep ever showed up that ten hour day.
Next: "What's a Sonnet?"