Sunday, February 23, 2014

Greff Fabrics Blues, 1971 (xvi)

Since the sample clerk job at Greff Fabrics was not that complicated a job to learn, by the end of the first day I pretty much had learned to do what was required for me to fulfill the daily work requirements. And by the end of the second day, I had found that the other sample clerks and I could make the 9-to-5 workday pass by faster if we talked to each other, both while we were pulling the requested textile samples from the shelves and during the lull periods in-between the time when we had filled all the salesman requests and near the end of the day, when the salesmen telephoned in new requests for more textile samples to be pulled and sent out.

Besides Bob, the only other sample room clerk co-worker whose name I can stil recall over 42 years later was named Louis. He was a recent African-American college graduate of CUNY in his early 20's who had grown-up in New York City and was more into individually making as much money as he could from the racist capitalist system that he, personally, despised than into working to build a Black Liberation Movement in the 1970s that would radically change the racist capitalist system.

When I mentioned SNCC and Stokely Carmichael once in one of our conversations about U.S. politics, Louis lauged, in a cynical way, and indicated that he felt that Stokely may have spoken in an entertaining style in the 1960s, but was now passe' and "out-of-date" in the early 1970s; and Stokely and SNCC's 1960's rap no longer reflected the now cynical, individualistic mood of the early 1970's Black community. Louis also seemed to indicate that he and his friends who were also in their early 20's now saw SNCC and Stokely Carmichael as being irrelevant to their off-campus early 1970's lives.

Unlike me, Louis was careful to continue to come to work in the Greff Fabrics sample room basement dressed up in a suit and tie and dress shrit--and looking culturally straight--because he was hoping to be quickly promoted to be some kind of Greff Fabrics salesperson upstairs or outside the store, since that was "where more money could be quickly earned" by him. Louis also seemed to regard our African-American sample room clerk supervisor Bob as being not ambitious enough and being too satisfied with just being the sample room clerk supervisor within the 9-to-5 work world, instead of pushing to get Greff Fabrics to promote him to some more lucrative salesman job--although Louis felt Bob was still a personally nice guy.

Since Louis--despite our political/philosophical differences--seemed the hippest of my co-workers at Greff Fabrics, I ate lunch out with him once in the Fall of 1971. And after work one weekday, I even went down to the Lower East Side with him to visit the affluent, bearded white guy in his 30's who apparently sold hashish and pot for Louis's own personal recreational use; and Louis, the white hashish and weed distributor and I spent a few hours sampling the hashish that Louis then purchased.

Unlike me, Louis did not spend part of his lunch hour each day visiting the nearby Donnell Library at W. 53rd. Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. Instead, Louis seemed to spend portions of his lunch hour visiting different private employment agencies or corporate personnel offices, filling out applications or being interviewed for some new job that would pay him more money than what the low-wage sample room clerk position at Greff Fabrics then paid him.