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shit happens (true story)

 
ntisithoj
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User ID: 810584
Argentina
11/05/2009 01:00 AM
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shit happens (true story)
This is not a ‘funny’ story, as in ‘ha ha’ funny. It is more like a Greek comedy, and it all started back in 1979, in New York City.

I had come to New York City with the play HAIR as a stagehand/hippie intern. Well, not NYC actually. We were on tour in Danbury, CT. when the tour was canceled. Having nowhere to really go, and no life plans that went more that 3days into the future, I decided to hitchhike to New York. I got to the outskirts of the city and took a subway to 33rd St. and Broadway and was instantly overwhelmed by the manic activity I was in the middle of. I was instantly hooked on New York.

I found a few funky jobs here and there, and moved in with an old theater friend. One of my jobs was to run a donut shop from midnight to morning in Murry Hill. Murry Hill nightlife consisted of mainly donut shops, cops, hookers, pimps and drug dealers. They would wander into the donut shop and tell their stories, and if the story was a good one I would give them free coffee and donuts (cops always got free coffee and donuts, even though they rarely had good stories). I became friends with many of them, and would sometimes hide the hookers in the kitchen from their pimps.

After a few months of this, it was well known on the streets that there was always a warm welcome for the nefarious at this donut shop. It became THE hangout for the Murry Hill underworld. The owner got wind of this and to confirm her suspicions she spent one night working with me to see for herself what the situation was. I was unemployed before the sun rose!

As fate would have it, I was also being kicked out of the apartment by my roommates for not paying the rent. New York is full of opportunities if you’re resourceful. So I moved into a building that had been condemned. It was already full of society’s outcasts, but there was one 6’ by 8’ room available. It came equipped with one light bulb. No one paid rent.

The self-proclaimed landlord of this resort was a crazy Dominican. One of his ‘jobs’ was to collect the money for the electric bill. After living (and I use the term loosely) there for one month, he presented me with a $40 electric bill. I gave him $10 and told him that’s all I was paying for one light bulb. He begrudgingly took it. A few hours later, while I was lying in my underwear on my cot, he knocked on the door and asked for $30 more. I politely told him he wasn’t getting it (’polite’ can mean so many things). The next think I know the door flies off the hinges and there is this crazy, drunk Dominican standing in the doorway with a butcher knife screaming something in Spanish. He started coming after me, but was so drunk he was bouncing off the walls. This gave me enough time to jump out the window.

Now I’m in the backyard, in my underwear! I can’t go back up. There’s only one way out, and that was through someone else’s apartment. I knocked on some back doors, but when they saw me standing there in my underwear, they were not receptive to my pleas. Finally, someone let me in. I explained the situation and called the cops.
When the cops arrived, I had to meet them on the steps of my building, which meant I had to walk down half a block, in the middle of the day, in my underwear. My mother was right. Always wear clean underwear because you never know when you may be running for your life in them.

I was very happy to see the two cops. I explained the attempt on my life and had every expectation they would haul his ass off to jail. Oh, did I mention the cops were also Dominican? No? Well, they were. They were at least nice enough to stick around while I retrieved my pants without being killed.

So, here I was, back on the street. Where would I go now?

I remembered that at the 13th Theater, one pof NY’s finest Off-Off Broadway venues, where I did some lighting work at one point, there was a Green Room (where the actors wait offstage) above the stage that had a door that went to the roof. If I could figure out a way to get to that roof, I could sneak into the Green Room at night.

I went to 13th Street and cased the buildings. I saw that if I stood on a railing, from there I could jump up and grab the bottom rung of a fire escape, pull myself up and from the first flat, jump to the roof of a Sushi restaurant, tiptoe across the roof to the back, and from there I jump to the roof of the theater, which had the door to the Green Room. My new home!

This situation worked out fine as long as I was out of there every morning and did not come back until late, late evening.

It was the fall before one of the coldest winters on record. I survived by stealing bread from 4:00 AM deliveries to bakeries, a little shoplifting here and there, and making a lot of promises to any restaurant who would feed me. Believe it or not, back in those days, waiters and waitresses would actually trust me to someday repay them for free food. They were not disappointed. I paid every one of them back.

The Green Room had no heat, and one day one of the windows fell out. Now my ‘home’ was as cold as the sidewalk. I was unbelievably filthy having nowhere to take a shower.. well, almost. There was a shower above the Green Room, but it was only cold water. Once, and only once, I took a cold shower in this room that could not have been over 40F degrees. Holy mother of god! I can still feel how motherfucking cold that was!!

Flashback: Many years earlier I had received my ‘Z’ card. This is the documentation issued by the U.S. Coast Guard that states you are a merchant seaman, which means you can work on commercial tankers. As luck would have it, the Merchant Marine union hall was just a few blocks from the 13th St. Theater. So, I would go and hang out at the union hall because it was warm.

Every morning I had to take all my worldly belongings with me. This only amounted to my paperwork (passport, license, Z card, etc.), and a few pieces of clothes, and of course, my book on ancient Middle Eastern theology, because that is what a homeless person needs to know about.

I would spend the day in the union hall, listening to the stories of drug dealers and smugglers, which many of these seaman were. It was like the donut shop, but now there were hundreds of them. Things were bad, and getting worse. There was little hope, and I had run out of ideas of how to dig myself out of this mess. Sleeplessness, malnutrition and stress kept anything that approached good judgment at bay.

Meanwhile, in Italy, there was a seaman who got off the ship, went to a bar, got drunk, hit someone, and landed in jail. The ship left port without him. That ship called into the union hall and said ‘Have someone here by tomorrow morning’. ‘Here’ was the Island of Sardinia, Italy.

An announcement was made at the union hall… “We need someone who can leave immediately to board an oil tanker in Italy. We will only consider seamen that have a valid U.S passport on them right now.” Everyone scrambled to get the job, to look for their passport, to whine and complain that they could get their passport in just 2 minutes, but I was the only person among 500 that had it in their back pocket.

I pulled it out and held it up in the air. The man looked at it and said, “Here’s your one way ticket to Sardinia. Your plane leaves in 3 hours”.

I was a shocked, happy and a bit confused. My first problem was how was I going to get to the airport with zero dollars. My only option was to take a cab, and stiff him when I got there. I was very unhappy about this, and I hope that in my next life I can make it up to that very nice but very pissed Jamaican cab driver.

I got on the plane. I got off in Rome. I got on another plane. I got off in Sardinia. I walked to the docks and they told me that my ship had changed course. It would not be in Sardinia for a few weeks.

“Great”, I thought. “I’ve gone from being broke and homeless in America, to broke and homeless in Italy!” I walked across what seemed like the entire Island of Sardinia to the American Consulate and told him my problem. He said “Oh, don’t worry. We’ll put you up in this nice hotel, and well cover all your expenses.” He then had a taxi bring me to this beautiful hotel, which was on the coast. I could even see Tunisia from my warm, sunny balcony. As soon as I settled in, room service brought me my daily and generous ration of fruit, cheese, wine and bread.

For a while I though I had actually died in New York and went to heaven, and I was trying to remember how I actually died.

The next three weeks I was in both shock and paradise. Even now I cannot fully grasp the shift from freezing, starving, homelessness in New York to luxury living in Sardinia, Italy, in a matter several hours hours. Eventually the ship picked me up. I traveled around the Mediterranean, made buckets of cash, came back to New York, bought a darkroom from a cute salesgirl and ended up marrying her and having three kids.

The moral of this story? Shit happens!
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 806973
United States
11/05/2009 01:07 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
Interesting story.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 809698
United States
11/05/2009 01:07 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
What a wonderful story!
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 810249
United States
11/05/2009 01:12 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
So the American Consulate spends thaat much money on people?

No wonder every American owes $548,000.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 65501
United States
11/05/2009 01:17 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
Good story. Do you believe in God? I think you had and angel looking over you.
KeepingItReal

User ID: 553451
Canada
11/05/2009 01:20 AM

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Re: shit happens (true story)
You made my day, dude.
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 809698
United States
11/05/2009 01:26 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
You are a wonderful writer. I'd love to see more!
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 809698
United States
11/05/2009 02:21 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
hf
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 810737
United States
11/05/2009 02:45 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
Zzzzzzzz.

Boring and fake
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 807550
United States
11/05/2009 03:17 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
I sailed tankers for 15 years in the far east and persian gulf.

I can relate to your story, because I had a similar one in 1990, when I had lost my shore side job.


My story took place in spain, I was pennyless, and wound in spain waiting on a the sea isle city, stayed in a first class hotel for 3 weeks waiting for the ship, got aboard and made a lot of money, quit sailing one year later, and went on to other things. It's a much longer story with many twists and turns, but don't feel like typing the whole thing.


NW
II-Neutron

User ID: 806646
Canada
11/05/2009 03:35 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
What a wonderful story!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 809698

ii.neutron@gmail.com
By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews: 11
SkyZ

User ID: 809901
New Zealand
11/05/2009 04:00 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
What a wonderful story!

 Quoting: II-Neutron


+2
Fuck your gunfights all i need is one mic and crowd time and i could outshine the sunlight on Cloud9!
ntisithoj (OP)

User ID: 810584
Argentina
11/05/2009 07:08 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
Zzzzzzzz.

Boring and fake
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 810737


Hahahah... well, this IS the story nobody believes... but it is all absolutely true (and I even left out some of the truly bizarre parts)

And there is a part II to this story... remember how I bought that darkroom from that cute sales lady? (btw, we're divorced and I am living on-the-lamb as a fugitive in Argentina... so there's a story there also!)

Back in those days I was a photographer. I studied all sorts of photography and became interested in various film developing techniques. Many of these antiquated processes required exotic and reactive chemicals that were easily purchased but not
commonly known. These chemicals were usually quite expensive, and I stored them in a dark corner of a shelf in my closet.

Long after I no longer used these chemicals, they were still stored in my closet. I would never have thrown them out as they represented what I once loved and hoped to someday return to. I did, however, forget they were there in my closet.

Years later, I subleted my apartment to a woman friend for a few months while I was out of town. Being a stereotypical man, I did not go to great lengths, of even moderate lengths, to keep my apartment organized, clean or tidy. My friend, being a stereotypical woman, did, and one day she decided to organize, clean and tidy the mess that was her temporary home.

She was doing a fine job, she assured me later, when she began to rearrange my closet, and in the process dropped a bottle exotic film developer (pyrogalol), a highly reactive yellow powder that tends to turn everything black it touches. Barefoot, she began to sweep up the chemical and in the process created clouds of dust, which she breathed in. She began to feel a little lightheaded and sat on the couch, where upon she noticed the soles of her feet had turned black.

She began to get a little concerned and called 911 to ask them who she should call to describe the symptoms to and determine if she should be worried or not.

911, upon hearing that she was exposed to some sort of chemical, immediately called the New York City Fire Department and an ambulance.

First the police cars showed up and blocked off the entrance to the building, then the ambulance came and brought her to the hospital. Then came the three fire trucks, lights blinking and sirens screaming down my street to stop in front of my apartment building. This activity brought every person in every building out into the streets as well, all wondering what was going on.

The fully geared firemen were on the streets and in the hall, but refused to come into the apartment until they knew what the chemical was, but they also chose not to leave the scene. They called the Department of Environmental Protection and asked them to dispatch an expert to evaluate the chemical.

The DEP cars and trucks arrived on the scene, again with lights flashing and sirens blaring. These men looked far more threatening with their Men In Black personas and suits than the firemen did. The DEP then called the Hazardous Materials Team (HAZMAT) and told them there was a potentially deadly chemical dust that needed to be removed from the premises.

In the meantime, speculation on the street had spread like wildfire. There were rumors that some woman’s feet had been chemically melted off; that some new super potent street drug process had gone wrong; that crack heads had tried to burn the building down (a staple paranoia), and many more.

Just before HAZMAT arrived, the DEP Men-In-Black pushed the people back as they expanded the perimeter of the 'crime scene', adding an even more dire tone to this event. When the two HAZMAT vans arrived on the scene, confusion turned quickly to terror when the crowd saw men exit from the vans in full Class-5 biohazard suits and moving quickly into my apartment building.

Meanwhile, the doctors at the hospital were in touch with the Men-In-Black, and fearing the worst, they quarantined my friend immediately in a private room. By this time she felt fine, but she would be kept under lockdown for the next five days.

East 4th St. looked like a raid on a bio-terrorist lab. HAZMAT scrubbed down my apartment and collected all the dust, which amounted to about 1 ounce, into a medium size bio-hazard hermetically sealed steel drum, which they left in the middle on my apartment, along with a bill of lading, stating that upon demand, at any time, I am to show proof of where this toxic waste was located. I learned that it would cost a minimum of $500 to have this 'toxic waste' officially disposed of. Oddly, they did not demand I dispose of it, merely that I knew of its whereabouts.

Twelve years later the people in my neighborhood still speculate as to what was really going on in my apartment. The truth will never satisfy them because they would never believe that our street was closed off with police, ambulance, fire trucks, DEP officials and HAZMAT bio-cops over a spilt bottle of film developer. Something much more sinister must have really happened.

To comply with the demand that I must show proof of where this ‘deadly’ toxin is, I opted to convert the steel drum into a lovely end table.
ntisithoj (OP)

User ID: 810584
Argentina
11/05/2009 07:10 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
I sailed tankers for 15 years in the far east and persian gulf.

I can relate to your story, because I had a similar one in 1990, when I had lost my shore side job.


My story took place in spain, I was pennyless, and wound in spain waiting on a the sea isle city, stayed in a first class hotel for 3 weeks waiting for the ship, got aboard and made a lot of money, quit sailing one year later, and went on to other things. It's a much longer story with many twists and turns, but don't feel like typing the whole thing.


NW
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 807550



aw, come on! it will live forever on GLP
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 810536
United States
11/05/2009 08:12 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
bought a darkroom from a cute salesgirl and ended up marrying her and having three kids.

The moral of this story? Shit happens!
 Quoting: ntisithoj


Moral : Buy Darkroom equip from cute girls.

And yes it does happen.

lolsign
ntisithoj (OP)

User ID: 811889
Argentina
11/06/2009 10:54 AM
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Re: shit happens (true story)
bought a darkroom from a cute salesgirl and ended up marrying her and having three kids.

The moral of this story? Shit happens!


Moral : Buy Darkroom equip from cute girls.

And yes it does happen.

lolsign
 Quoting: BatBoy



Hahaha... i guess you didn't read Part II !
PerpLexedededed

User ID: 700665
United States
11/06/2009 11:11 AM

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Re: shit happens (true story)
tounge
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness"__
Mark Twain, 19th century American Author (and genius as far as I'm concerned.)

My nickname is Eileen Toodaleft.

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