Sweat is running down my back and my chest. The sun beating down on my head feels like a hammer of the gods. East 42nd Street is clad with a wide, red carpet and drivers are honking in a way that assures you that they are seriously irritated. I step out into Second Avenue when the little white person appears on the crosswalk sign; it is 93 degrees and I’m due back at work. A motorcade stops me as three tour buses cascade by, and an NYPD officer waves mere pedestrians back to the baking pavement to wait another rotation of the lights. Helicopters high overhead fail to stir this heavy, hot air. Hazily I wonder if the president is in town, or royalty of some kind. It’s clear that the plebeians are of less importance this afternoon in New York City. Then I spy a banner-the All-Star Game. I’m being broasted on this street corner for a bunch of baseball players, not one of whom I can name. This is such a facile way to learn your place.
Chance often enters my thoughts. There are those who become rich and famous because they are driven to it, but they happened to be in the right syzygy of circumstances to take advantage of that opportunity. There are some who would say that attaining greatness is an act of God, and others who claim it is only fate, or luck. The fact is, the only reason some people are more special than the rest of us is that they were offered an opportunity that opened a gate. I’m not suggesting that hard work’s not involved, but hard word alone doesn’t suffice. You need to have a leg up to get to ride in that air-conditioned luxury bus down Second Avenue while your fellow citizens, and not a few seriously sweating fans, step aside for you.
I’m sure it’s just sour grapes. Like most little boys I really enjoyed playing baseball. I never considered it a job, though. We were far too pedestrian in my neighborhood for that kind of thought. My goal was to be a janitor. It was only when I reached beyond this calling appropriate to my state that I ran into difficulties. The marionette dancing at the end of the strings of puppet-masters who had better opportunities than I. Sour grapes and hellish city streets—what wine will ferment from this alchemy? There go the All-Stars. In many parts of the world, as in my head, their names are unknown. Today, however, one of the busiest streets in Midtown Manhattan is stopped just for them. We’re all in the same oven, but some are in air-conditioned coaches while others are melting on the sidewalks. The red carpet is not for the likes of us.