Register Monday | June 24 | 2019

A boss with claws

A winner in our Pulpy and Midge "Worst Boss" contest.

When I was seventeen, I moved to New York and answered an ad placed by an attorney working out of her home in a wealthy enclave of Manhattan. When I turned up for an interview at her home/office, it turned out be in the middle of a charming cobblestone street with an "other-worldly" quality to it. I felt like I was glamorous and in London as I rang the doorbell. I made my way to the second floor up a narrow, worn flight of stairs that smelled of cigarettes, greasy cooking and kitty litter. Then I walked inside the brownstone accommodations to see a sink full of dishes being ogled by at least three cats. My new boss wore men's "board shorts" and spoke in husky tones; she walked with a limp and had feathered white hair. We sat down and chatted about my qualifications; within minutes the job was mine. I started the next day. The first day of real work, she was about to leave for a trip abroad. But first, she took an "economy size" jug of Jack Daniels from beneath the desk and fixed herself a "Manhattan." She insisted that I imbibe as well, regardless of the fact that: a) I declined b) I was underage and she was a lawyer and c) I was a cheap drunk at best of times and this was surely going to get ugly. She went on to talk about how she was ill with the residue of a series of "bad dreams" she’d had the night before as she had just started "the patch." Lighting up a cig, she had a second drink, and started in on some poor sap who dared call on the telephone. As she left, it was made clear in not so many words that I would care for her legion of felines while she was gone. And clean the house. The office "equipment" was archaic at best and included: a bad typewriter (not a cool, "Royal" model like in a "Sam Spade" novel) and some weird recording device that I would use with cassette tapes and pedal like a sewing machine to transcribe her conversations with clients—her husky, dim-toned conversations ripe with smoke and drink. The constant invitations to her private hotel on Long Island eventually started to get suspicious. I don't recall how long this arrangement went on for, I just remember that after I quit, I returned home on a subway car full of giggly Asian children in pressed, plaid school uniforms, comforting a small bunny rabbit that someone had left in a cardboard box on the train. It was a perfectly bizarre ending to an even more bizarre chapter. Only in New York...