Tag Archives: construction workers

Welcome to Hollywood! What’s YOUR Trip?

“How is it out there?”  I got a text from a long lost comrade, on the East Coast of my youth.

It came in between my feverish dreams on behalf of the girl next door with a terrible cough; and another girl, also sort of next door (more like behind the door diagonally across the hall from mine), who insists on slamming that fucking thing every time she leaves or returns to the premises.  (And considering that the girl behind the diagonal door is a new starlet in Hollyweird, she comes and goes quite a bit.  I also presume she must be quite forgetful, ‘cause that door usually gets slammed a dozen times before the joint returns to its habitual silence.  All that noise — from one little girl!)

Oh, and then it was one those fire drill days in my building; and once I returned to my heavy, sweaty dreams — after the new starlet finished her door slamming for that portion of the day — off it went:  A horrific sound of metal on metal, meant to save the living and to wake the dead!

I reached for my earplugs.  Normally, I sport those if going to bed after midnight:  when the ghetto birds come out to cruise my ‘hood and wake up the girl next door — and her terrible cough.  But yesterday morning, I was meant to sleep in.  (I had been awake for half the night, every night of this week, due to a heartbreak-related insomnia.  FUCK.)  Except:  I forgot to read the memo plastered on the door of our garage earlier in the week.

“Probably another filming notice,” I dismissed it at the time.

But the memo multiplied like an occasional stampede by rodents; and by the morning, it appeared on every door of the joint.  When the drill when off, I stumbled out of my apartment into the corridor, with purple earplugs ‘n’ all:

“Is there smoke?”  I thought, trying to remember where I used my laptop last, before finally falling asleep:  ‘cause that’s the only thing that was worth rescuing.  “If there is no smoke, I’m going back to bed!”

“Dear Tenants!”  I first read the paper on the diagonal door before noticing my own copy.  I skimmed over it.

“Cocksuckers!” I thought.  So much for sleeping in!

I closed the door, jammed in my purple earplugs further and went to the fridge.  That’s where I keep my coffee, you see, and anything else that I would hate to see be invaded by a stampede of rodents.  Top shelf:  Hemp milk, honey…  FUCK:  I’m out of coffee!  Totally forgot!  Must get to Trader Joe’s today, but:  FUCK.

I got out a gypsy skirt, utilized it as a dress, took the stairs, stepped outside:  Lovely.  Perhaps not really a beach day, but still:  Lovely!  I took out my purple earplugs and walked to the 7-Eleven on the corner.  Behind it, a construction that’s been going on for over a year was starting to look like a building, not a skeleton of steel beams, and plastic, and fiber glass.

“Afternoon, m’am,” a bearded man in an orange helmet grinned at me in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven.  These guys are awesome:  construction men who are often warn their invasion of an neighborhood with signs like “Caution:  Men Working”,  “Men Working Above”, “Caution!  Men!”

“Afternoon?” I responded.  What frigging time WAS it?  Come to think of it, that fire drill memo did mention 12 noon.

Armed with my watered-down coffee, I rushed back to my apartment.  Sure enough:  12-fucking-30!  FUCK.  I gotta publish!  The horrific sound of the drill made me consider visiting some coffee shop at a walking distance, but then you never know with those, in Hollyweird:  Some lonely exhibitionist may always impede on my work there, and then I’ll need my purple earplugs again.  I got to work.

After a typical three-hour session which sometimes feels like a catharsis, and other times — like a mean constipation — I finally got around to returning my messages.  There was a semi-flirtation by an old lover.  Cute.  Then, there was the request to take a raincheck on a date from a player I just met.  An actor.  Of course:  What was I thinking?  Two lines were sent to the old lover, one — to the actor.

“How is it out there?”  I reread the text from my long lost comrade.

Right.  What to say to that one?  I stumbled around the apartment for a little longer (the fire drill was finally over), and decided to do a little research on behalf of my curious witness, on the East Coast of my youth.  Because I’ve been out here a bit too long, to be easily impressed to give him the answer he may want to hear; so I thought:  Why not take a little walk while running errands?

First stop:  The bank.

“I’m SO glad there is no racism out here!” 

As soon as I stepped in, I overhead a white woman do her spiel in front of two clerks, in the lobby.

“Right, right, right,” one of them was responding.

They didn’t have a choice but to listen to her.  None of us did.  I began testing those dinky pens with strings, just so I could sign my checks.  Apparently, she had just returned from Paris and was “shocked” — “SHOCKED!” — by the state of the racial affairs over there.

“I tell you:  This is exactly why Los Angeles — is the best place on the planet!” 

I looked over at the African American security guard by the door:  Was he as uncomfortable as me?

“Right, right, right…”

The white woman was finally marching out, laughing at her own joke, seemingly relieved (had she just fulfilled some civic duty?); and as she passed the security guard — now holding her door — she ignored the courtesy to thank him.  Oh goodness!  I was already craving to get back to my apartment.

But:  FUCK!  I’m out of coffee!  And didn’t they just build a new TJ’s around here?  I decided to walk around a lil’ more.

“How YOU doin’ today, mami?” — a Chicano was smoking outside another bank I passed on my excursion.  I examined him, head to toe:  I’ve been out here a bit too long to be easily impressed.  Then, toe to head.  The head was smirking, disarmingly.

“Good,” I answered.  Fine:  I looked back and pressed my lips together (my version of a smile); then kept walking.

“Nice poom-poom!” he hollered before I disappeared behind the sliding doors of TJ’s.  And how would HE know?!  FUCK.

Screw it!  Quickly, I picked up my staples:  I’m pro.  A woman on mission.  Besides:  The inside my apartment was starting to feel very tempting.  

Ahead of me in line, a young mother was venting to the cashier:

“My son was beating up a boy over these seaweed snacks!  And I was like:  You’re in kindergarden!”

The cashier smiled uncomfortably while stuffing her bags with what looked like a month’s supply of seaweed.  The young mother looked back at me for some better sympathy.  I pressed my lips together.

“I mean:  This is what the children in Hollywood fight over!  Seaweed.”

She took her time paying, while figuring out which credit card was going to work that day; and finally settled on writing a check.  This — was gonna be a while.  I put down my items.  Scanned the shelf of Zico coconut water.  Oh!  I NEED me some of that!  I grabbed a about a month’s supply, and approached the tortured cashier.

“Rough shift?”  I said.

He pressed his lips together:  “Just another day in Hollywood.”

I packed my own bags, paid cash, took a different exit to avoid the smoking Chicano and stepped outside:  Lovely.  Perhaps not really a beach day, but still:  Lovely!  I strutted home.

Oh, but:  FUCK!  I’m out of coffee.  Totally forgot to buy some.

FUCK.

“I-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t: Do You Know What That Mean?”

There is a poem by a dead comrade from my Motha Land dedicated to us, Russian broads.  It goes like this:

“She will stop a galloping horse and walk into a burning house.”  

We are like that, the broads in my motha’s family:  Never the tall or skinny supermodel types, we’ve been known to have smaller frames, upon which some have packed on curves, especially after carrying their firstborns.  For a couple of centuries, since a gypsy entered our family and genes, we’ve been strutting closer to the ground; and, as in the case of my motha’, have learned to sway our hips with enough gusto and sex to keep us better balanced in our short bodies.

But you would never call us “small.”  Even these days, most of my comrades are confused when I climb off my Femme Nikita heels and start standing a lil’ bit over five feet tall.

“You’re so short?!” they say with a sincere wonderment.

“It’s my ego,” I’ve learned to explain.  “It makes up for my height.”

From what I’ve overheard of the fam’s mysterious history, the broads of my motha’s clan have always had some serious temper on them.  Blame in on the Romani blood, but these wild cats have been known to intimidate their husbands and children into life-long submission — and heart-altering love — while getting shit done with the assistance of their famed sexuality.  Oh, yes, siree!  Hot-blooded, stubborn and messy-headed, these creatures have granted me their fearless make-up.  Especially when going through hell — when right in the very midst of it — we aren’t the ones to show fear.  And only when alone or in the arms of a man privileged to have tamed us into quietness for a while do we become the scared little girls every woman should be allowed to be.

All this preface to say:  I don’t need help!  Whenever lugging heavy loads in life, I don’t ask for assistance.  I can handle it on my own, thank you:

“Pleeze, dan’t khelp me!” I always shoosh away my comrades’ helping hands, in my motha’s thick Russian accent; and while I proceed with my stubborn struggle, I watch their beloved faces crack-up in recognition of my authenticity.  “Yourr velkom!”

Yesterday, after the expiration of the bloody tax deadline, I’ve finally ventured out to my local post-office with a couple of accumulated care-packages for my beloveds on the East Coast.  Typical to LA-LA’s fashion, this particular USPS location didn’t come with customer parking (shocker!); and after circling the neighborhood and deconstructing its street cleaning signs for nearly half an hour, I finally squeezed into a slot between the tank of a Hummer and a clogged-up sewage drain, about five blocks away from my destination.  Other than the reek that surrounded my car and reminded me of my Motha Russia’s cow fields, I didn’t mind the walk.  So, off I went, balancing in a newer pair of Femme Nikita heels in my best runway walk, while lugging my boxes.

Needless to mention, no man has offered to help.  Actually, there is a need to mention that.  I know the lovely creatures of my gender have made strides in pursuit of their equality; but until we are genetically predisposed to pack on muscles equal to those of men, chivalry should NOT be off the table.  Fuckin’ pussies!  Ball-less weaklings!  Call themselves “men”…

Oh, sorry.  Where was I?  What did I tell ya:  I’ve got quite a temper on me!

Actually, there was one creature who seemed to empathize with my load:  a drunk homeless man who took a break from vomiting out his morning meal, wiped-off the foaming saliva off his crooked, toothless mouth and slurred out:

“Getchaself a cart!”

Thanks, buddy — for this life-changing piece of advice.

Still, I remained un-phased.  But the weight of the load must’ve had some effect on my face; because by the time I reached the damn post-office, a Russian compatriot, who was meditating outside with a cigarette in his right hand, said:

“OH.  SHIT,” — and hurried to open the door for me.

Inside, it would’ve been a normal occurrence of events — unworthy of my rant blog — if it weren’t a handful of construction workers holding hostage one of the windows for the entire duration of my waiting in line, then my lugging struggles to the window, then what had to be a somewhat amusing attempt to lift these fuckers onto my clerk’s counter.

I’ve been a woman for long enough to know when I’m being stared at.  With every follicle on my skin, I can usually feel a stranger’s eyes on me; and despite all of my temperamental huffing and puffing at the window, I knew the brothers were watching me.  So:  I shot ‘em my askance look.

There was a beauty in their dirty faces, an unexpected type, and it caught me off-guard.  In mismatching overalls and torn-up frocks, with unbrushed locks of hair or long strands of dreadlocks, they had to be independent contractors on their way back from building a stage at Coachella.  Or something like that.  And despite the heat of my temper affecting my better reason, I immediately wanted to know their story.  But still too pissy to soften up, I barely nodded in their direction and pretended to be consumed with comprehending the shipping rates my clerk’s mouth was now spewing out.

On my strut toward the exit and past the still staring brothers, I felt an extra spring in my step:  I just did that, my comrades, all on my own!  And now I was heading back out — to hustle and survive! — while looking pretty damn good for a broad who hasn’t rested since the beginning of the year.

With the corner of my eye, I sensed one of the workers jamming his elbow into his colleague’s ribcage; and he, in response, slid off his camouflage cap and with enough selfless innocence to make me wanna adopt him said:

“You’re beautiful.”

Phew.

Yep.

Da.

Time-out.

It was merely impossible, my darlings, to keep putting on my front without tearing up.  I nodded and thanked him, all kinda off the cuff.  Yet, I could feel my heart skipping a beat.  And in that moment, unmarred by the man’s further pursuit of my name or phone number; in that moment that a woman can never expect a life to grant her — not in this day and age! — I knew that the struggle of self-possession and the high price of independence have been worth it; even if — just for that moment.