I was lucky enough to have a friend that works at a flower shop give me a week’s worth of employment during Valentine’s Day, their busiest season. My first day on the job, I had scrounged change out of my couch to get on the subway. The shop was super busy when I walked in and someone asked me if I could run a delivery before getting started in the office. The building I went to was Goldman-Sachs. Hilarious. While waiting in the messenger center, I tried to plug my phone charger into one of the electrical outlets, but the security guard told me it was against company policy to let me do that — power ain’t free!! Dicks. After a few days of paperwork and telephones, I was positioned on the freezing street in a giant U-Haul truck filled with deliveries for the actual day of lovers.
The company had hired about 80 people off Craigslist to escort the floral arrangements all across the city. I was suddenly face to face with other unemployed people, all of us just thankful for the chance to earn a few dollars. As I chatted with my fellow Americans, I quickly learned way too much information about their lives. One had just gotten out of the hospital for some mysterious reason, a plastic bracelet around his wrists. Many kind hearted men with tattoos of teardrops on their face. A very old Chinese man who wore an eyepatch. An extremely overweight lady who worriedly kept asking if she could leave by 4pm to pick up her kid from her mom’s house before her mom’s boyfriend came home… I didn’t even want to imagine why. A lot of the people seemed to have very rough lives and were in some way ex-criminals, criminals, or very possibly mentally ill. I was in the middle of finishing my hot tea when someone from the shop promoted me to be the manager of the group. Privileged white guy, here I am!
For each successful delivery, confirmed by a signed receipt, I was to give a little red ticket to the delivery person, which represented a dollar. The idea being the faster you deliver, the more money you can make. An older lady who couldn’t walk very well, but had warm eyes, told me she didn’t care how much she was getting paid, she was just happy to get paid. Well, I became very popular. Lots of sugarcoating, pole smoking, and artificial niceties. I was authorized to give the people I saw doing well extra tickets. Aside from a handful of slowpokes and the stoned guy wearing a black leather jacket with the words “In God We Trust” embroidered in yellow, who kept “losing” his receipts, everyone got a little extra money. I’m pretty sure he was selling the flowers on the corner. If I was in charge of firing, he would’ve been gone. Some people tried to coerce or trick me into getting extra tickets, but I was always a step ahead and once they tried to take advantage of my kindness, they never saw it again.
The day after Valentine’s, I helped by making deliveries myself. From banker’s offices at the southern most tip of Manhattan to the Upper East Side to the West Village to Washington Heights, I pedaled the petals. While lost in Harlem, two girls, who were mayyybe 16 years old, came up to me and said, “Hey don’t I know you from the TV? You were on that one show!” They couldn’t remember the name of the show I was on, but they knew my name. Beyanna and Diamond gave me directions and told me that, as of the night before, they were officially girlfriends. The three of us had a kyoot little “queer power” moment in the street, we hugged, and we went our separate ways. I love them. Yay queer youth!
By the end of the week, my feet hurt, my brain smushed, and the anxiety over what the next chapter of my life is gonna look like had set in again. Lots of changes are happening, surrounding the people I know and am friends with, but I’ve decided to embrace the chaos and go where the universe wants me. Rollercoasters, puppies, the position of your head when you bite into a taco, diarrhea, zen…