Habanero, Da’Bomb, The Final Answer on 111 John Street

Green jalapeño is a good kind of pepper that makes you sweat – a  necessary ingredient for chili turkey, chili beans, guacamole. Just like red hot chili pepper it makes you sweat, it produces a good sweat, killing bacteria, purifying your mind and body, taking off your vices, exterminating a sore throat. Habanero, though is a different kind of pepper – it’s furiously spicy, evil spicy – it can kill you.

When you get off at Fulton street subway station and turn on Williams street and then on John, the shape of many brick buildings resemble decks of ships – that’s how you know you’re just steps away from the South Sea Street Port. It’s 14 minutes past nine. I am running late. Again. I enter the building and greet Freddy, a black middle-aged receptionist in a red uniform. Freddy smiles at me, his mocha dimples project coolness, his head rocks to the torn beats and sounds of Dazed and Confused. I get in the elevator and press 19. The light on the panel goes up slowly until the elevator hovers and the bell rings. I close my eyes, catch my breath and step out reluctantly. The hallways are inundated with the smell of Abercrombie & Fitch, cologne Fierce, signaling the arrival of Andrew Evilini, the Boss. I look at the slightly crooked company’s name and logo. One letter is missing but the big sign looms ferociously, DIMES ROUP INTERNATIONAL

“Morning” I say to Josh and Alison. It’s been a while since I stopped adding an adjective ‘Good’ before Morning, as if mornings have been simply Bad by default. They nod reluctantly without looking at me.  Andrew Evilini is not only there, he’s everywhere thanks to his unique and almost super natural ability to multiply and spread his presence, filling in every inch and gap of the office space. I turn on the computer and log in to our corporate  email, going thru my assignment list, following up on emails with clients. I check BBC, CNN, world news, login my twitter account, check the weather. It’s a really hot humid september and I still have sand under my manicured nails and jacket pockets from the Sunday at FarRockaway.
The office air is stuffy, heavy, like in an airplane, I gasp for fresh air, which is only a block away. I stand up to get myself a shot of Nespresso. It doesn’t taste fresh, it doesn’t taste coffee, I can taste fakeness, wrapped around plastic cover of an expensive marketing campaign.  I slip out of the office and walk really fast to Jack’s coffee on Front street. Every inch of the South Street Port is diabolically familiar, the boats, the deck, the smell, the sounds, the screeching sound Pier 17 makes. I can’t explain why this place pulses thru my body. I linger at Jack’s, sipping double shot espresso as if it’s scotch.  I can’t wait to come back to Pier 17 for for lunch with Voltaire’s Candide. I’ll order baby ribs with baked plantains and rice from Chicken Blues and put on Nick Drake and watch Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn heights and the River and Governor’s Island and dream about things. But until then I’ll have to comply with compliance and count down to lunch. What is this that I’m doing? Research and Compliance. Compliance with labor laws, 1099 compliance. Termination agreements. at-will employment agreement and general law. So much compliance. Dammit.    
   “Alexandra, so when do you plan re-takind the Bar exam?” Josh hovers above me like a dark heavy cloud, his face wears no expression. His mouth barely moves, when he utters his words and drops vowels and consonants his lips don’t dissolve into a smile or even grin, they freeze into a straight line. Josh is my manager. Despite being a year older, and having worked just a few months more than me at Dimes International, Josh was made the Manager of Me. The position he carries on with an utmost air of importance. His big padded suit exaggerates his muscles built on weight-lifting and protein shakes. His skin is smooth and silky dark, yet his fine features portray big nothingness, exude no appeal, no sexuality.
A high pitched shriek comes out from the kitchen, interrupts the airplane like silence.
“Ba, we have rats in here,” Andrew Evilini shouts! My biscotti, cereal, chocolate is gone! Come in here, everybody!”
I almost want to shout back casually, “Yea a pretty rat came in and finished all your fancy european chocolate.” But I’m holding off.
We all assemble in the kitchen obediently like a herd of sheep. All of us, a company of 8 people. Josh, Caroline, Kevin Hu, Alison, Joey, and Khalid and me. Caroline is Andrews right hand. She just turned 27 and looks even younger thanks to her unique ethnical mix of mexican, chinese and native american. Caroline is the HR, CFO, the Head of the Office, the Consultant Specialist and all other top positions secured by becoming Andrews secret lover.  Andrew’s eyeballs are moving around eye sockets ferociously. The Boss, Evilini, still young, pushing late thirties, is wearing a custom tailored european designer suit, designer socks and a baseball hat to conceal his balding sparse hair.  We all feel that he is up to something and that someone is about to receive a blow. Kevin Wu, a young accountant shuffles his feet sadly, his head is bending down like a dropping leaf. “Now, Kevin Hu, I know you want to try this cookie. It’s the last one but you will certainly enjoy it!”  His hand  opens the refrigerator and takes out a small bottle of the da’Bombe, The Final Answer, the  world’s hottest sauce and spreads and covers a cookie with the sauce, a fine thin layer.  The herd is cheering up for Kevin. “Go Kevin, go! You can do it!”  Kevin does have a choice but he is a part of the herd and he shall partake in it because Evilini the Boss promised  to promote him from just the Accountant – to the Head Accountant or Accountant Manager of 2 people. Kevin takes a piece of cookie and takes it in in slow motion. The red agony starts to cover Kevin’s face, each pore turning flammable. The herd is in ecstasy. The Boss is horsing around. He gives Kevin a glass of milk. ‘Yeah, that’s my boy”,  Evilini beams with satisfaction. Kevin empties a glass of milk in a split second. Words  abandon him completely.  Everyone has nothing to say. The show is over and everyone is back at their cubicles.  I catch the Sun reflecting in a skyscraper, and then it comes – the tip of Brooklyn Bridge reflecting on top of the building across the street magnificently. It’s lunch time. I am getting out of this corporate freak show.
 Mash 114 Front row

2 thoughts on “Habanero, Da’Bomb, The Final Answer on 111 John Street

  1. This is as accurate and horrifying a portrait of Corporate America as I’ve read in a very long time, exposing how companies (and their leaders and loyalist staffs) have no soul, robbing workers of their individuality, their humanity, their honor. Evilini, indeed.

    1. Yep! I am reading Jung, the Undiscovered Self. He states that the moral responsibility of the individual is replaced by the policy of the State (rason d’etat). The goal and meaning of individual life no longer lie in individual development but in the policy of the State…”The individual is increasingly deprived of the moral decision as to how he should life his own life…” The State Doctrine does not need personalities capable of judgment, but SPECIALISTS WHO ARE UNUSABLE OUTSIDE THEIR LINE OF BUSINESS…
      this can be applied to Corporate America and HR people too who look at your resume only and are unable to look beyond that…

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