September 2005. Early. Sunday.
I am in a town car with a sharp dressed driver on my way to LAX to catch a flight to JFK…first trip with the new job. Funds are low but I have enough to get me to NY and back. For sure. Just to be sure I call B of A to get my balance.
I have that number memorized. When you live on fumes, this is what you do. You check your balance.
Instead of hearing what I want to hear, the robotic voice of the B of A lady informs me that I am in the negative by several hundred dollars.
In the back seat of the black car gliding through the green lights of an early morning Venice on the way to the airport, I can’t breathe. My fingers tremble as I dial B of A again, once connected I push random numbers until I get a human on the line.
The coffee shops and video stores and liquor stores are a blur as the B of A human informs me that my last check hasn’t cleared and won’t clear for days.
The driver has his eyes on me in the rearview mirror. He looks like Bill Cosby, a bit thicker, but about the same age and height, he looks like what I imagine Bill Cosby to look like. Where has Bill Cosby gone? I hang up the phone.
“Miss? I couldn’t help but hear…are you having money issues?”
How could I have stepped into this hired car this morning without any money? I thought I was finally caught up. After years of being underemployed I’d knuckled under and gone back to the corporate job with the big paycheck…this is my first trip to the big deal sales conference in NY. How can I be such a fuck up?
“Miss, how much do you need? I have $500 in cash, do you need more? I can get more.”
We are in Culver City now, the road goes from 2 lanes to 4, the airport is just ahead.
I look into his eyes, the review mirror is just big enough for his kind eyes. I want to wail. What do I need? I need so much. So very much. My mother just died of a horrible, unfair disease called ALS, right before that my love and I split after 4 years, my teenage son is spiraling out of control, not to mention all of my bills are past due and I’m on my way to NY to spend time with people who resent my new position in this voraciously stupid company that I just signed on to AND I have no goddam cash to get me there!
“Sir, $500 is more than enough.”
At LAX, he hands me $500 along with two business cards, one for the limo service and one that states in black and white that he is a minister in Watts.
I thank him from the bottom of my weepy heart. He waves goodbye and leaves in that shiny black town car.
I will never forget him, my angel in a sharp suit.