Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Story of Steve, and Whoopi Goldberg

Photos taken from the Internet

I used to work with a guy named Steve Glick. He was an accountant in his 50s who worked for the company almost 20 years, and then was given the option at one point of leaving 2 years before retirement, or take a pay cut and work in the mailroom for the remainder of his time, which he did. And that’s where I met him.

Steve was a stereotypical nerdy accountant type, but he also came from hard times. He grew up in the Chelsea projects around 23 Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan. But one of the things he seemed to talk about the most was that he grew up there with Caryn Johnson, more widely known as Whoopi Goldberg. He was a classmate and friend of her brother Clyde, he would tell.

Often, he would whip out a photo from his wallet, which caused the other guys in the mailroom to tease him. It was a photo of him standing next to a photo of Whoopi, rather than Whoopi herself. They mocked him often and didn’t believe him, because he was a bit of a strange guy (though with a good heart) who was a bit off center. I believe the pressure of the job, the fear of losing his pension, and an ill and semi-senile mother put a strain on his personality, sometimes making him seem a bit slow and socially graceless, but I knew it was extraordinary circumstances, both past and present, and I liked hanging out with him in the mailroom after everyone else went home (he always worked overtime, but never asked for OT pay because of fear of losing his job so close to retirement).

One day, someone in the mailroom found out that Whoopi was up the street filming a movie or television show. The guys said to Steve, “Let’s go and you can say hello.” In his self-effacing way that invited teasing, he didn’t want to bother her. “Yeah, because you don’t really know her,” they hounded him through the morning. Finally, he relented.

At lunchtime, the mailroom group of around five guys went over to where she was filming. Steve hung back, being quiet. He could see Whoopi was in the middle of a scene, and wanted to be unobtrusive.

Suddenly, he caught Whoopie’s peripheral vision, and in mid-scene, she whipped around, and shouted, “Steve!!” She ran over to him, giving him a big hug. “Hey, Karen,” how are you?” They talked for a few minutes about their lives and her brother. Needless to say, the mailroom guys were rightfully impressed and feeling a bit of a comeuppance.

Then, being the cool person Whoopi is, she posed with all the mailroom guys who were snapping photos, and so Steve finally got one of her actually standing next to him, arm around his shoulder, rather than a picture of a picture. After a heartfelt goodbye, she then went back to work, and so did Steve and the guys.

And, by the way, it was not Steve who told me the story but the mailroom guys. Steve didn’t want to talk about it at first, as he was shy about all the attention. But when we did discuss the incident, he glowed…right until the day he finally retired, which was the last time I saw him.

No comments:

Post a Comment