Josh and the City: How Pants Can Plot Against You and Other Giggles

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Hello, friends, and welcome to another exciting edition of “Josh’s Life is a TV Show, Or Maybe He’s Just Over-Dramatic and Thus Crazy Things Happen to Him that Would Work Well in a Column of Some Kind, Perhaps One for StageDoorDish,” otherwise known as “Josh Examines Small Moments in Life and Finds Something in Each of Them, be it Hilarity, Panic, Anxiety, Confusion, Fear or Outright Amusement, Among Other Things.”

How’s that for a run-on?

Well. Allow me to tell you about the run I’ve been on this week. (And no, I have not done actual running in longer than I care to admit, unless you count sprinting down city streets and sidewalks in pursuit of buses or imminent work shifts).

I prefer to walk and, perhaps as a result, have become a walking stereotype: last week, I began a new catering job in the city. Translation: I am officially an actor living in New York serving food to people to make a living. (Cue the raucous Hallelujah chorus and half-hearted laughter in response.) In all actuality, I’m very excited to be doing everything that I’m doing and it is a thrill to know that I have at least a glimpse of decent money coming in. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s examine what happened to me moments before I left for said catering job.

My call time was the middle of the afternoon, so I took my time getting ready. I had a hearty breakfast of pancakes, eggs and iced coffee (lately I’m on a pancake kick that I can’t seem to shake…overshare?) and then I got ready. Knowing that I needed a few extra minutes to walk to the bus stop, I put on my pants with a few minutes to spare only to realize – to my horror – that they were huge on me. These are tuxedo pants that I haven’t worn in at least a year – which, yes, means that I should’ve tried them on before leaving for my first catering job – but for whatever reason, said fitting did not happen and I was not aware that I would be swimming in pants that a year ago seemed to fit just fine. My reaction was like something out of a Scooby-Doo cartoon; I instantly started panicking and yelling out unintelligible things while bumping into walls and practically tripping over my pants. I pulled out belts, cumberbunds, safety pins, whatever I could find, suddenly feeling like Violet Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events minus the long hair and ribbon to wrap up said nonexistent hair with, but you get my point – I had to figure out what to do in under five minutes!

Coming up with nothing suitable, desperation pushed me to call my sister. I knew that there was little she could do to help, but I figured she might have an idea for me. (She didn’t.) I was therefore forced to grab the biggest safety pin I could find, pull my pants in as much as the waist would allow, pin them, and pray that the pin held for my eight-hour shift. Cue more laughter, this time maniacal, like the overlapping guffaws of a studio audience thoroughly relishing my demise.

After riding the bus to the job site and chowing down on two revolting hot dogs that I was forced to buy after the pants fiasco left me unable to whip up lunch, I began doing pre-event set-up work, during which time my pants continued to fall and I pricked my finger multiple times re-positioning the pin. I was self-conscious during the entire set-up, knowing all too well how baggy my pants must have looked to the rest of the catering staff. By the end of set-up, I decided that I didn’t have any choice in the matter; I had to power through the night with the hope that no one else would notice or care. I stopped thinking about it and focused on the task at hand.

It ended up being quite the rewarding evening. Not only did I meet a ton of other theatre people and gain valuable first-time service experience, but I also got to witness a very lucky surprise performance by a Broadway performer that I had no idea was in attendance. Perhaps the actor-waiter stereotype isn’t so bad after all.

With the pants fiasco now far behind me, I now must tell you about the newest problem I have developed. It’s something the rest of you have probably heard of; in most societies, it is referred to as “uncontrollable laughter.” I can’t put my finger on what it is – the changing of the seasons, the hundreds of new faces I see every day, my amazing coworkers at the retail job I work – but lately I find myself physically unable to stop laughing in situations that tickle me. I mean it – I cannot stop. Everyone else finds that moment to calm down and breathe when the joke’s not funny anymore, but not me. I keep going, even after I stop; I’ll be in the middle of a transaction and just start cracking up out of the blue. The customers look at me like I’m from the loony bin and I have to calmly explain that I am not laughing at them but at a joke a coworker just told. Then they walk away and I keep on laughing until I find a moment to pull it together and stop looking like a complete fool.

Today, for example.

I’m standing at my register checking out a customer. His forehead is drenched in sweat and he has disturbing amounts of snot dripping from his nose. I have no idea if he has noticed this, but I certainly have and, being the germophobe that I am, I am trying not to cringe or inhale the same oxygen. He hands me his card and I take it, only to realize that it is wet. Wet. The credit card he handed me is WET. I have no idea what this wetness is, nor do I want to, so I swipe it, give it back to him and practically sprint to the hand sanitizer before I am forced to take my next customer. When I get a free moment, I tell my coworkers what happened and start laughing again, probably because I’m so uncomfortable, grossed out and tired from working all day up to this point. My next guest looks at me funny, like he has no idea why I’m laughing so hard. I ring him out, tell him his total and after staring at me for several seconds, he says, “No.” I start giggling, realizing that he doesn’t speak English and thus hasn’t understood anything I’ve said the entire transaction. After ringing him out, I try to explain to the next customer why I wiped down my entire station with sanitary wipes as well as why I can’t control my laughter. She laughs along with me but also doesn’t speak English – she just keeps nodding her head and mimicking my laughter. At this point, all bets are off and I’m all but rolling on the floor. None of my customers understand a word I say, my register is covered in boogers and snot and God-knows-what and clearly it is time for me to be released from work for the day so I can breathe real air (clean air – well, as clean as it can get in NYC). It probably took me five minutes to calm down enough to drink some water and re-sanitize my hands. Whew.

There are definitely worse things than laughing uncontrollably at work, like realizing that your tuxedo pants are two sizes too big moments before your bus is about to leave. And, let’s be real, I definitely prefer customers that make me laugh to customers who make me want to rip my hair out.

But I guess that would be a good topic for next week, wouldn’t it?

May you all find happy moments this week and carry vast amounts of hand sanitizer. And please, please, please:

Beware the sweaty snot man.

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