AN~ This was an assignment for English class, otherwise I wouldn't have put it up.
Disclaimer: I don't own or like the Cather in the Rye.
I couldn't believe it. I'd been working at the office for years, and they fired me out of the blue! Where was I going to go? I mean, it's not like I had another job lined up or anything, and I was an old man! Most places were looking for young, strong boys, not old men with very little education.
That was the issue with being an immigrant. We didn't get much in the way of schooling back home, and it put us at a disadvantage when we came here. Not only that, but I had to learn to speak English before I could even start looking for a job, and that had been hard enough. I'd learned pretty well, though, if you asked me. I still had an accent, and there were sometimes when I forgot which language I was speaking, but other than that, I almost fit in. It had taken forty-three years, but I'd been settled- until now.
Now I had to go tell Tillie that I didn't have a job. She was the receptionist at the Edmont Hotel, had been for twenty years. Did a heck of a job, too. But she couldn't support us both, they didn't pay her enough.
"Tillie!" I called, entering the apartment, "I got news, and it ain't good!"
"What is it, Dmitri?" Tillie asked, coming into the living room, wiping her hands on her apron.
I love Tillie. She's the most beautiful, wonderful amazing, patient woman in the world. She learned Russian for me, just so that she'd always know what I was saying. She deserved better than an old man who couldn't read and didn't always speak the right language.
"I got fired," I decided to break the news to her bluntly. She could take it, and she could always tell when I was trying to skate around something. "I took one too many days off or something 'acos o' my rheumatism, and they decided they wanted someone younger."
"Oh, 'Miti," Tillie said, giving me a hug. "I can't believe it. You're the best janitor anyone's ever seen, and- I'm sorry."
"I'm all right," I said, "Gonna have to start looking for a new job soon, though. Can you read me the classifieds?"
Tillie smiled and said, "I don't have to. The bellboy at the hotel quit for a job as a waiter just last week, and they're looking for someone new. You're strong enough to carry the bags, and I can get you in. It won't pay much, but it'll be enough for us to get by until something better comes up."
"You're amazing, you know that?" I asked her, giving her a kiss.
"Of course I do," Tillie laughed. "You're only worth someone amazing."
So the next day, Tillie took me to work with her, talked with her boss for a while, and just like that, I had a job. Not much of one, to be sure, but a job that paid enough for us to survive. It wasn't very hard. All I had to do was carry up a few bags now and then. Quite boring, actually. But I could see Tillie on my breaks, and that made it worth it. She did a good job secretarying, if that's what you call it. I don't think it is.
The Edmont Hotel wasn't a very high class place, now I thought about it. It had a nice name, but the inside didn't match, even though the outside was clean, if a little worn down. I had stayed nicer places when I'd just moved here. I wondered if they'd pay me extra to clean and fix it up some, and decided to either ask the manager or have Tillie ask for me. I didn't want to start speaking Russian to him. That wouldn't go over well.
Tillie asked him for me, and explained about my problem with languages. The manager was very nice about it and said as long as I told him what I was doing, I was free to fix the place up however I wanted, and he'd pay me extra for it. I decided to start as soon as possible.
But I had to do the job they had hired me for beforehand. It was a week before I had spare time, and in that week, only a few people stuck in my head as interesting. You'd think it would be more, at a hotel like the Edmont, but most of them blurred together in a haze of drug addicts, drunks, homeless people, and immigrants who hadn't been as lucky as I had.
One of the interesting people was a man who rented a room alone, but was sometimes a woman when he came out, sometimes a man. I wanted to ask him what he did for a living, but I was too nervous. He looked cruel.
There was a couple that interested me, too, because they reminded me of myself and Tillie when we were younger. Poor, but content despite the circumstances.
The last one who I took notice of was a boy who couldn't have been more than sixteen years old, and that at a stretch. He tried to act older, though not very well. He glared at me like I was the scum of the earth, and it looked like he was lonely. No wonder, if he treated people like that.
But it wasn't my business. My business was to carry their bags up to their rooms and fix the hotel so that it was in better shape. That way it might get more business, or higher class business, and then they could raise their prices, which would mean Tillie and I would be paid more. It looked like being fired might have been one of the best things that ever happened to me.