Sunday morning, 7:30 AM
FIRED UP, FALLING DOWN
I got out of bed at seven, in that crystalline, hyperawake state that is the prelude to a full-on crash and burn from exhaustion. I had no time to fully address this, however, because I had to walk over to the Brooklyn Academy of Music campus, make for Fulton Street on the edge of it, and open up the world's largest public access glass studio.
The only way to get up to the third floor of what had been an old BAM theater was by way of an elevator. The regular doors were alarmed, and I had to deal with the implications of that on another day. For today, it all worked out. The elevator doors opened onto the third floor, I ran for the alarm system keypad, and punched in the correct code. I scurried around the studio from then on, firing up glassworking stations, checking the furnaces, assembling lampworking equipment for the few people who were in need of the use of a table torch at nine AM. I then took refuge in the head studio manager's office and did my best not to collapse in a tired heap on the desk.
I took a bit of a pay cut for the assistant studio manager's job, thinking I'd possibly be able to work my way into more glassworking time. It was a smaller hourly wage than working in the studio offices for the director and for the editors and staff of the glass art magazine that was put out by the studio. However, as a receptionist, I was working only one day a week, and the studio managing job was more hours.
Besides, I answered the phone one Sunday, and listened to the biggest mess of gibberish I'd ever heard through fiber-optics. "What?" I said. The gibberish continued. "What???" I said, a little louder. The gibberish speaker got louder himself, and even more agitated. With every "What?" from me, the speaker got even angrier and lost almost all ability to communicate, until he finally yelled out his name...and I immediately became superapologetic and extremely embarrassed. The poor man was a Muranese glass artist, thoroughly experienced in Venetian glassworking techniques. All he was doing was calling to see if the work he'd done for a demonstration the day before was out of an annealing oven yet, and he hit an instant roadblock in Lil' Miss Doofus Receptionist over the phone. I apologized profusely, transferred his call to the studio manager's office, and sat down heavily in my chair.
So I took on the assistant studio manager position when it opened up - or, I should say, one of the three to four studio manager positions. I sat in on some training sessions with all of us new hires a couple of times before I began the new job in earnest. While we were going over the workings of Digitry oven controllers, I could feel someone staring at me. I tried not to notice, but one of the new guys was practically boring holes into my brain. When we took a short break, the new guy walked up to me and said, "How old are you? You can't be more than sixteen!!!!"
His tone of voice clearly said, "What the hell are you doing here?" For a moment, I thought I'd somehow beaten some friend of his out of a job, but I told him that I was actually six years older than what he thought, and he walked off, shaking his head.
Managing the studio was a double-edged sword, as it turned out. Yes, I had more time in the studio - taking care of other people's needs. I got my eyelashes singed off when I was firing up a small "garage" (a working annealer which people used to make these), I had to stay late at times charging the studio's three furnaces with more glass for people to use when they rented time, and I commisserated with the head manager on the semi-constant usage of hydroflouric acid in the grinding and polishing room (please, please, PLEASE, folks, if you value the bones in your body, DON'T go using this stuff in any form). It was, in reality, a position of babysitting people with all levels of glassworking experience and making sure that they didn't hurt the equipment, or themselves, in the process.
However, the Sunday morning workers seemed to have their competence and their safety procedures well in hand, because I really wasn't bothered too much in that office that day. 2:30 PM came around, finally, and I dragged myself back down Atlantic Avenue to my Smith Street digs. Walking up the couple of flights to my apartment was almost more than I could bear, but somehow, I made it. I holed myself up in my room and fell asleep.
I don't remember any of my dreams, but if I had any, I'd bet that one of them might have centered along the lines of that infamous 1970's N.Y. Daily-News screamer headline concerning Gerald Ford:
LEIGH TO CITY:
Because SHE Already Has