Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Joe the Sign Guy

The signs at the Park would not have won any design contests. Most were purely informational, with vinyl letters affixed to a green or brown-painted piece of plywood. They were all made by an old hippie named Joe. He was the Sign Guy. Joe the Sign Guy.

Sometimes, when it got slow in the sign shop he would pick up some extra shifts in Lift Operations. He would come into the office before he was scheduled to start, sit down with a big sigh and say, "Hiiii TheRESE." It was always surprising to hear such a lilting singsong come out of such a big dude.

One day, he came in to the office while I was in the midst of payroll reconciliation, shift change and a general nervous breakdown. He sat down and greeted me as usual. After dealing with whatever jerky 18-year old was hassling me over his shift assignment I turned to him and started complaining about how hard it was to get anything done in that office. I needed some sort of Do Not Disturb sign, but meaner. Would he make me one that said Fuck Off?

"Sure, TheRESE. I'm low on vinyl in the shop, but as soon as I get more in, you got it."

I promptly forgot all about the Fuck Off! sign. But Joe, bless his heart, did not. A year or so later, I stopped by the Park during the off season to visit a friend. As I passed the sign shop, the window flew open, and through the cloud of cigarette (and possibly pot) smoke that billowed out I heard Joe yell, "TheRESE! I have something for you!"

Sure enough, it was a FUCK OFF! sign. The plywood was painted white, the letters were red. It was beautiful.


Melissa said...

Rest in Peace, Joe. You were a good egg.

Melissa said...

There's a challenge to capturing Joe's voice in print. I imagine John Irving had a similar struggle with Owen Meaney.

therese said...

He was one of the good ones. And yeah, it is really hard to capture his voice.

Colleen said...

awesome. where is that sign today? where is Joe today? dead?

therese said...

That sign currently hangs above my desk at home, though I should really bring it into work. And yeah, Joe had a heart attack a few years ago. I tried to go to the wake but stupid Jersey City impounded my stupid car for a stupid (and not my fault)parking violation. But that's a story for another blog.