‘Pushing paper’ fades
now we push 1s and 0s
from laptops to networks
to internet portals, and
strangers decode our symbols
like Egyptian scribes, creating
stock quotes and photos of hurricanes
and marketing plans for the latest
A security guard glides
through the marble lobby
of a class A office building
in the financial district,
to Friday commuters:
“Great job this week,”
he smiles, as if
our tightly packed boulders
of 1s and 0s
would not be waiting for us
at the bottom
of that Monday morning hill.
Delivery trucks line Financial — that half-street stunted by train tracks
and Board of Trade barriers. Vehicle signage announces Document
Destruction, Evian, Ajax Security, Minute Maid. I walk swiftly
from condo to office, as pigeons scatter slowly at my feet, completely
assimilated, scavenging leftover Goldfish and Sun Chips.
Men push dollies laden with soda to the back doors of sandwich shops,
up loading dock ramps, bound for vending machines and refrigerated cases
where they will sit next to bottled water and cups of sliced fruit.
The CEO decides to refocus the firm on first principles, which results
in the obsolescence of an entire division, which empties a floor or two
of a Louis Sullivan building, which means fewer workers buying coffee
and bagels and yogurt, which bankrupts the old man in the lobby,
which means one less delivery truck on Financial, which means Carlos
must take a second shift to make up the lost wages, which is why he stumbles
from lack of sleep and spills soda cans on the sidewalk before me.
I walk around the cans. My boots crunch
on the salty streets, my face aches, fingers are numb, nose runs.
A train curves shakily round its elevated corner, delivering the next wave
of office workers to the newsstand, the nail salon, the flower shop.