A bloody forehead, a bad back, and a train wreck later, Joseph Levens’ New Year’s resolution pays off.
In this week’s installment of the Good Men Project book excerpts, we bring you an excerpt of Joseph Leven’s “Resolution.” This piece and many more make up the Good Men Project book—the parent of the magazine you’re currently scrolling through. So if you like this, then you know what they say about apples that fall from trees …
For more, check out last week’s “The Not-So-Dolce-Vita.”
by Joseph Levens
It is the middle of a workday in Midtown, and I’m off to another meeting in another office, walking along another city sidewalk. A car hits the back of an idling cab, and the cab careens into the knees of another businessman, knocking him down. I look at the man: He cannot get up. I continue walking.
The morning of September 11, 2001, I am working from home on Long Island, 20 miles from Manhattan. News footage shows plumes of smoke moving east with the wind. I shut my window.
Over the years, one of my staff has become one of my best friends. But the company is doing badly now, and jobs are being sent to India. He is going to be let go. I knew this several months in advance. On the day he is dismissed, it is a shock to him.
It’s New Year’s Eve, and I feel as though my one big resolution should be to work on my disposition, to be nicer and more amenable, considerate, honest, sensitive, forgiving, to look on the brighter side. I decide to go ahead with this plan, and I have another drink.
One January morning, a newspaper strews all over the platform at Penn Station. I see the man who tossed it onto the cement as he got off the train. I approach him and point out the mess he’s made. He pushes me, and my head hits that of a woman behind me. I see blood form above her right eye. “You’re bleeding,” I say. “Shit,” she says.
At work, I’m asked if I could give the water cooler man a hand and replace the empty bottle in the coffee room; his back is bad. I help him, and now my back is bad.
An exciting new internal job opportunity is posted at work. I mention it to a friend of mine in another department, and she says she really would like that position. I tell her to apply, that I don’t want to compete with her. She applies, gets an interview, has dinner with the director, and then an offer. But she turns it down. Soon after, the post is pulled because of strategic changes in company initiatives.
One day in the spring, the 5:38 into the suburbs collides with a vehicle on the tracks. There is likely a fatality, the conductor announces over the speaker. The man in the seat behind me is visibly upset. When I ask why, he says because now they have to shut down the line and bring in the investigators. We will have to be bussed, he says. It will take hours for us to get home. I ask him to gather some concern for the person we hit. He says it was probably an idiot, moron suicide.
The paper reports the next day that a 72-year-old man on his way home from a final radiation treatment had turned onto the tracks and parked there.
I pay for lunch with colleagues one Friday, and in the afternoon find that all those who do not work in support roles, as I do, will be getting bonuses. Still, I do not expense the meal. It will come out of my own pocket, the pocket of a pair of trousers on a man who is and evermore will be happy, happy, happy with himself.
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Image Maxwell GS/Flickr