Merry Stiffmas

In December of 2009 the jewelers on 47th Street were counting on a big buying spree to recoup from the Great Recession, however the nation’s zombie economy had exiled the masses from luxury purchases gold and diamonds. Only the rich had money and Richie Boy had more than his share of the upper class. One customer bought a yellow diamond ring for a quarter of a million. The invesstment naker earned that much per day. Another Wall Street iinvestor dropped a half-million on a Burma ruby. Several other financiers purchased collection-grade diamonds as hedge against another economic collapse.

After setting up the window for the day I went outside Manny’s store and cleaned the front window.

“Damian, you have a dollar?” whined Lenny the overweight Hassidic bum.

“Always for you.”

Many people on the street considered Lenny a Kadokhes or a worthless person, but he always wished me luck, which I desperately needed, since I hadn’t closed a sale all week.

I hope you have a good season.”

“Every year is worse. None of the hoi polloi are buying.”

“Rich people, feh. All they do is push money back and forth taking a little here and a little there. They produce nothing of value and neither does America.” Lenny slapped a greasy hand on the window. Each time imprinting a palm. Richie Boy waved for Lenny to piss off. Lenny turned to me and said, “Why is Richie Boy such a cheap prick? He never gives me nothing. The Jews are so mean to the Jews.”

“Lenny, if you stopped cursing him out of the street, he might give you something.” I handed the fat slob a dollar. He was getting old. His winter wardrobe was torn coat, a soiled tee-shirt, stained trousers and battered yamulka.

“No, he never gives. Does he treat you alright?”

“Alright enough.” I hadn’t received a raise in two years. Manny, Richie Boy’s father, nickel and dimed my commish for every sale. Still I was able to feed my two families in Thailand and no one was hiring a man my age. I was the only 58 year-old on the subway in the morning. Everyone else was either retired or on unemployment.

“You take care, Damian.” Lenny waddled down the sidewalk bemoaning the loss of the middle class. The gap between rich and poor was hurting his business too. I returned inside and helped Richie Boy finish with a Burma sapphire sale.

$150,000 from a Tech entrepeneur.

They were still earning good money.

After writing up the bill Manny came to the counter and said, “I don’t know why you give Lenny money.”

Manny hated anyone who didn’t work and that sometimes included me, since I never showed up to work on time.

“He makes me laugh.” Chronic tardiness was my way of rebelling against incessant badgering. He was a prick, but I was inured to his abuse.

“A fucking Trombenick.”

Manny’s father had worked every day since he was 12. Jake was run over by a truck on Canal Street running an errand for Manny. The accident didn’t kill him, but the doctors gave him a deadly infection. He went to his grave three days after visiting the hospital.

“He might be a ne’er-do-well, but he is still very funny and he isn’t stupid.”

Everyone said that he used the coins and dollar bills that he reaped from 47th Street to finance his online trade. The slovenly bum was rumored to be worth millions. I had seen him on the streets late a night.He hated sleeping in the shelters. He was not a rich man.

Throughout the morning Richie churned out sales. I could barely keep up with him. His phone never left his ear.

“When are you going to make a sale,” Manny asked fromk his desk.

“Leave him alone. Our low-end client base is gone.” Richie Boy explained to his father

“Teh goys spent too much money at Kmart. Serves them right for buying all that crap from China.”

“It’s all they can afford after you rich bitches sucked them dry,” I muttered under my breath. Richie Boy caught some of it. He had good hearing. A glare warned to keep my antpathy for the rich to myself. Free speech was a luxury only the rich could afford on 47th Street.

Dealers kept showing up at the store for payment of old debts. Manny never ran from them, but paid off these debts slowly. Richie’s big sapphire sale saved the firm, but after giving a setter $2000, Manny said, “I don’t know how I’m going to get salary this week.”

This comment was probably to himself, I suspected that the eight-year old had said this to prepare me for his not giving his working staff their Xmas bonus. He had done it before and I feared that he was getting ready to do so again.

I mentioned this possibility to Deisy. She shook her head.

“I work six days a week and this is the thanks I get.”

“It’s not sure.” Only 90%.

“Yes,” Deisy sighed with an accent. She came from Brazil. “But he only gave me one raise in three years. Always the same thing. I wish I could do something but it was a bad year.”

“You want to make a bet that we get something?”

“No.” Deisy was a Born-again Christian. She believed in the goodness of man, but mumbled a Santeria curse aiimed at Manny.

“Don’t be like that.” As a non-believer I worried about curses. They were almost as real as Santa Claus.

Two evenings ago we had attended the firm’s annual Xmas dinner.

$50 a head.

25 people.

Richie Boy’s partner had given gave Deisy and me $200. Manny had handed us a cheap scarf and good glove. I had left them at the table. Karl had chased me down the sidewalk, “You forgot your gifts.”

“No, I didn’t.” I was pissed. Richie Boy and Manny. Cheap bastards. “Thank you for your gift, but I don’t need anything from those two scrooges. Another Merry Stiffmas.”

“They didn’t give anything?” Karl was a little crazy at work, but the diamond broker had a good heart.

“Not a pfennig.”

Karl insisted on my taking the gifts. They would be nice to re-gift. I rode a taxi home and had a beer at Frank’s Lounge. Everyone there was happy to see me. The bartender bought me a drink. We toasted ourselves. None of us were rich and in some ways I was happier that the rich owed me nothing and me nothing in return.

Happy Beermas one and all

I hope none of you get coal in your stockings.

It’s all the rich want to give.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *