NYC vacay. May, 2003.

Alt. headline: “JESUS CHRIST! USE EVERY DAY OF YOUR PTO THAT IS WHY IT IS THERE WHAT THE FUCK DON’T BE STUPID JESUS CHRIST!!!” 
What a guy! Stressed out, on vacation, yet he takes over so the bartender can catch a break. (I didn’t really do this. The bartender humored me. The bouncer wasn’t called over.)

I’m not a compulsive selfie-taker, but an occasional pics post is cool, right?

A show about NYC gave me the urge to dig up some old NYC vacation photos. In a few pics here, I cropped people’s faces out because I don’t have consent. These strangers—garbage collectors, bartenders, bodega cashiers, passersby, hot dog vendors—were nice enough to pose with me.

Whatever drove my frazzled mind to create this NYC jackass-photoessay and ask random New Yorkers to be a part of it, man. I needed to do this. Almost twenty years later, I realize how crucial this seven-day breather was.

Those who have seen the full and unedited set of sixty-odd pics tend to shake their heads at me and mutter, “Dude…the hell is the matter with you?”

The hot dog vendor is standing next to me, smiling and nodding, not telling me to fuck off. I got a few pics with different hot dog vendors.

In spring 2003, when I bought the NYC plane ticket spur-of-the-moment, every workday sucked. One of my clients, a beer brand and my agency’s second-biggest account, would eventually become so unreasonable that we resigned the whole business. 

Talk about corporate insecurities at work. One higher-up beer-bro had always wanted to fire my company. But the other higher-ups told him no. So for 2003, he ordered his team to make the relationship excruciating for us. Just to show the other higher-ups that he could.

May. 2003. Me losing my mind, feeling alone.

From January forward, it was as if the client made it their goal to create more obstruction. Vanishing timelines and budgets. A regular stream of cryptic e-mails that cc’ed agency bigwigs who earned their six-figure salaries for yelling when ordered to. Lots of last-minute “let’s just start over, from scratch…but we’ll still meet the deadline, right…” requests.

Snapped a couple of good photos with these garbage collectors. They were chillin’ and it was a beautiful night.

After one-too-many fire drills, longtime vendors started to turn away work. This client burned everybody.

Their billings, that giant chunk of dough? We chucked it in mid-2004.

As hateful as the client became, some co-workers made it worse. Especially management. That agency promoted the personality types who could pad client estimates while sporting big ol’ manipulative smiles, then zing those extra dollars up to the degenerate gamblers…excuse me…holding company. 

My aunt joined in the picture-taking. Here we are, stealing bikes. (Not really.) HI, AUNT MICKEY!

With billable-hour models, I’m convinced the drill is to stick AS MANY HONKING BILLABLE HOURS as possible onto a job, regardless of need.

C’mon, minions! Get out your ball-peen hammers and whack a few more of those bitches onto the job. Those investors’ divorce lawyers are top-dollar, yo.

An increasingly-cheap client. An increasingly-greedy Wall Street corporation. Us in the middle.

Gotta love the Lower East Side. Some dude brought his panda suit to the bar, let me and my buddy play with it.

I booked that trip in a moment of sanity-saving rage. While it may look like I’m having a blast, I was actually watching out for my health. Besides the job, my personal life was a train wreck as well.

Sometimes, a human needs to go to another city and take dumb-dumb pictures for seven days to feel human again.

These pics…they make me realize how toxic my day-to-day existence was. Before this trip, days veered between aggravating and excruciating. No. I remember what a “good day” meant back then. Those were the not-as-godawful ones.

Business enterprises that make and sell frat-boy-beer employ a lot of pretty faces with shallow souls. It’s like high school, with coke and infidelity. A line of work for folks who view life as a popularity contest.

6th Street. Indian food rules. My two hosts ruled.

Very Rush Limbaugh.

2003 was evil. Remember the Second Gulf War? That began in 2003. I rest my case.

Looking back, I could have leaned on my parents and brother more. That’s an insight that I realized during moments of reflection later on. You live, you learn, right?

In October 2003, I would take another week of vacation and use those days to network. I credit the empowering mojo from my NYC trip.

Years later, I freelanced through the Great Recession, working part-time jobs to get by. As bad as those times were, they didn’t make me feel powerless like cubicle-life in 2003 did.

In closing, I say this: use every last one of your vacation days and other paid time off (PTO). 

Also, wherever you go to escape and recharge, give posing with strangers a try. 

Riffing off of earlier posts:
• The Intersection of Memory Lane and Flashback Avenue.
• Operation Week Off.
• Before MAGA and QAnon, there was Doc.
• ID photos should look stupid.
• The New Einsatzgruppen wants to talk fatherhood. Oh, boy!
• Open letter to a selfie of my drunk-ass self, taken on August 11th, 2001.

I write fiction and have two dark comedies available, Fearkiller (Volume 1) and Notes from Trillionaire Island: Fearkiller (Volume 2), as well as Revolutionizer Alpha, the first book in a sci-fi series. I also wrote a story about God. It was weird, but then I decided to make the story and its sequel free. And all of the sudden, it didn’t seem as weird. Writing about God is much less weird when you write about God without charging money for itHere’s my professional site, my trade. Follow me on Medium.

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