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Mr. Mustache, another librarian blog

I am a reference librarian with experience in both the public and state government fields. I am doing this on a whim, sort of like the mustache I grew when I was 19 and still have in my 50's.

Location: New Jersey, United States

I am a state worker and a librarian.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Perry Street Irregulars

On my first day at my new job I had to go to an all day orientation session at the Personnel office on the 15th Floor. After filling out forms and told to avoid sexual harassment if we could, we were handed out bus schedules. I remember thinking; “It’s great they push mass transportation at the Department”. Then came the bombshell.

Told delicately in the way you would inform a patient that they had incurable liver cancer, my trainer announced “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that you all have a parking space provided by the State. The bad news is that is on Perry Street, sorry guys there are no spaces at the main lot. But there is a free shuttle you can take to get here, the Statehouse Shuttle. That’s why I’ve given you all bus schedules. The shuttle also goes to the train station. Just show your badge to the driver and the fare is free.”

Upon further questioning our hostess told us we would eventually be given spaces at the main lot as they opened up. After all, people die and retire. And if we were desperate, we could always do what she does, since presumably she was new too. That is, you could park at $7 a day at the hotel across the street.

What a surprise! Nowhere at my interview was this little factoid mentioned. I wanted a job in State government. I got a job in State government.

So now I was in my new condo and ready to embark on my new adventure. Taking the car to the Perry Street lot and then taking the Statehouse Special to the main building. I got out my maps and figured out a way to get to the lot. As drives go, it wasn’t bad. I got to go through the three great regions of our country, all within twenty minutes. I drove through the great-extended suburbs of America, where you go 45 on residential streets. Then I drove through blue-collar suburbs. Soon I entered urban America as I turned and drove on the last leg. The part that passed through tough streets and bad traffic congestion. I passed by the Trentonian guy. A guy sixty years old who sold the Trentonian on the streets (he literally sold papers on the yellow line of the road). Then I passed the great offices of the Trentonian itself and later the entranceway to the great road of the eastern seaboard, Route 1. A tricky turn to the lot and I parked. There were plenty of spaces. And I met up with a unique species of State employees. “The Perry Street Irregulars.”

The Perry Street Irregulars mostly worked at Motor Vehicles, Personnel and Labor. They all knew each other and chatted about the weather, their mothers, their health problems and other matters which my ears could not hear. Of course they complained about work, especially their co-workers. Some of the ladies were young and comely. Most, sadly, were not. Men were outnumbered 3 to 1.

Although the Statehouse Special was technically a public bus, it was filled mostly with State employees and so became, de facto a charter. The bus drivers were friendly! They would wait for you if you were late. They would pick you up if you waved. Once one of the sweet young things asked the driver to wait. She ran to her car, rummaged through the back seat, got her hero sandwich, and ran back to the bus, much to the amusement of her girlfriend. It reminded me of summer camp. It was a treat being one of the Perry Street Irregulars.

Then things changed. Romance and the green-eyed monster of jealousy entered the club. Like an Arthur Miller script, the bus had one really cute young lady. She always wore sunglasses, which added to her allure. Then they had a new employee from Motor Vehicles who rode the bus back one day. He was maybe 22 and had a cute face for a guy. He started sitting next to the cute young lady. She started laughing at his remarks. She had an annoying laugh. Then they started driving in together to the Perry Street lot. Then they skipped the lot altogether. Maybe with two of them they were chipping in on parking. She and the rest of the girls were like a family and the new guy broke up the family like an unwanted brother-in-law. The spell was broken. The gang stopped sitting together. It was a dark week on Perry Street.

The week passed. June turned to August. The gang started uniting in the back of the bus again. The green-eyed monster had temporarily been pacified. If not forever. There was peace again on Perry Street.
One morning I got the letter from the Department. I had been given a space at the main lot, or the Rutgers equivalent, “on campus”. I was going to leave the club. I had moved up in the world. I was no longer one of the Perry Street Irregulars.

Now I am like everyone else. I take the thruway to work. I park in the lot. I exit the back way to the parking lots. And I will never know what happened with the Perry Street Irregulars. I will be left out of the news of marriage, babies, and retirement that they will all share. Like being let out of the Army, you never really return. Now I am in lot A6.