Tuesday, July 24, 2007



Deep breath.


Second interview for the Project Manager job this morning. Basically a sit down with the other guy who works there who knew my sister.

I was a little thrown at the outset, as Guy Who Knew My Sister started out by referencing the "political activism" on my resume (Oh my God! Does it show? I thought I had sanitized it pretty well!) and recalling another era in Bucks County history: The Pump.

He asked me if I knew Abbie Hoffman.


I met him once.

Y'see, back in the early Eighties, there was a proposal to build a pumping station on the Delaware River, to take water from the river and pump it into a reservoir to serve "water-starved" Montgomery County. This was wildly controversial at the time. For one thing, opponents of the Pump suspected--probably correctly--that the purpose of the water was to serve the nearby Limerick Nuclear Power Plant. (Keep in mind that Bucks County is about eighty miles downwind from Three Mile Island, and the near meltdown there had occurred only a few years before this. Also, Back In The Day, Bucks County was something of a Hippie Haven. And all those unwashed folks in their batik clothing and thigh-high moccassins came out of the woodwork to oppose the Pump.

There were hearings!

There were protests!

People chained themselves to things!

And into the middle of this came Abbie Hoffman. No one was quite sure why or how. Possibly, like many New Yorkers, he thought that Bucolic Bucks County would be a nice place to retire to. Abbie's arrival inflamed the situation on both sides.

Now politically, Bucks County is run by something of a Republican machine. There's this guy named Harry Fawkes who is "in charge" of everything. He decides who's going to run for what office and makes sure they get elected. The Democrates thought that jumping on the Dump The Pump bandwagon might possibly get them the votes to have a Democrat elected to something (anything!).

Now, I was Against being Against The Pump. I thought that it was a non-issue. The "environmental damage" would fall somewhere between minimal and non-existant. And if the Limerick Nuclear Power Plant needed the water, I think it would be in all of our best interests to give it to them. But the Democrats jumping on board struck me as really cynical.

Oh. And Abbie Hoffman was an asshole.

In the restaurant where I worked with my sister, the word spread: Abbie Hoffman was sitting at the bar!

Now my sister had run away from home when she was nineteen to live on a commune with a rock band. So Abbie was kind of an icon for her. Sort of like I'd be if I was told while getting my iced quad venti two pump vanilla light ice latté at Starbucks that, "Oh by the way, some guy named Jeff Stryker is sitting out on the porch." Or something.

So when we got off shift, my sister made a beeline for the bar, with me in tow.

And Abbie Hoffman was an asshole.

Self-important ("Do you know who I am?"), misogynist ("you women are so stupid"), and barely articulate ("the River don't deserve to be run bone dry!"). And after he insulted my sister, he wanted her to pay for his beer ("Who's gonna buy me my next one? How about you honey").

Crazy days in Bucks County.

They built the Pump. The Democrats lost again. Limerick continues to provide our electricity. The Delaware River flows and flourishes and treated us to a series of floods a few years ago. And Abbie Hoffman died of a heart attack about four miles from where I'm sitting and writing this.

And there I was talking about the Pump in a job interview. Luckily, I wasn't pressed on the issue. (I mean really. What else should we talk about? Gun control? Iraq? Medical marijuana?)

Later in the interview, we were talking about politics again, and I think I scored some points.

The Guy Who Knew My Sister mentioned Jim Greenwood, formerly our Congressman. And also revealed that he had been a Republican Township Committeeman.

I told him how when I was a little kid, my special toy was a stuffed donkey. It was a stuffed Eeyore, but we his name wasn't Eeyore, it was Demmie. As in, "Democrat." My family didn't just vote Democrat, they lived it.

On election day in 1980, I was standing at the polls handing out literature to elect Jim Greenwood in his first bid for politial office, representing us in the State Senate. It was the height of the furor over the Pump, and Jim Greenwood was saying pretty much the same things I was saying. So I was working for him.

Oh. And he was running as a Republican.

That night at the polls, our neighbors would approach, say hello to me, look at what I was handing out, and ask, "Do your parents know where you are, Drew?"

The Guy Who Knew My Sister liked that story.

Parenthetically, I've never regretted my support of Jim Greenwood. When he was in Congress, I called him a few times on issues important to me, such as funding HOPWA (the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS Act) and increasing funding for ADAP (the AIDS Drug Assistance Program) so that the then new protease inhibitors would be covered by State drug formularies). And even though I was living in New York City, Jim Greenwood was responsive and remembered me.

But I'm feeling good about the interview.

I'm up against two other guys, and from what was said, they're carpenters and contracter kinds of guys.

But the job involves helping people out when their homes have been hit by fire or flood. And I have this whole resume that's all about dealing with people in crisis. And, I've built cabinets, renovated a brownstone in Brooklyn, and spent eight months and $ 400,000 to renovate a manufacturing building at 25 Allen Street to be the new home for the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center. And I get the job done.

Oh man I want this job.

I love how they described it: the call comes in, I hit the road, sweeping in to take charge of the situation, managing the contractors.

And get this: I'd be getting a company vehicle. And it'll be a truck!

I've been thinking about getting a replacement for the Bucephalos, my trusty Jeep Liberty. And I've been thinking in terms of something with better gas mileage. "Thinking" is the key word here. Because I've been looking at Ford Mustangs or something like this or this or this.

And I'd be managing construction, not only the field that I've been thinking and dreaming about getting into, but I'd be getting paid for it instead of giving money to Stevens Institute of Technology or Drexel University or NYU. (Although I bet they'd be cool about me picking up some courses here and there and being flexible with my schedule so I could go get some book learnin' to make me better at my job.)

Now, there is a downside.

If I get the job, this could very well mean I don't make it to Inferno this year. I'll ask The Boss about it. Explain to him that I'd be more than willing to take the time off without pay. But I'd be at peace with that. (Especially after the crappy time I had at Inferno last year.)


Deep breath.

So I'll be hearing either way by the end of the week.

So if you're plagued by cramps from keeping your fingers constantly crossed for me for the past week (thank you!), hang in there!

But please don't uncross them yet.


Ron said...

Sending lots of good karma your way -- hope it works out for you.

MsSnS said...

Good Luck!

-'bastian said...

Fingers firmly crossed, and I'm getting a cramp so I'm hoping for success soon! :)