What I wear walking into my community service has no connection to what I'm going to do when I get inside. This is how I dress, and this is how I carry myself. What do they expect me to dowalk in looking all drib and drab? I've never looked drib and drab in my life.
There's no plan for this week. It's kind of unfolding as it goes. The judge at my sentencing had promised that my car could drop me off at the door of the Sanitation Department every morning. I asked for that mostly because I've had a stalker. But then this gentleman from the Sanitation decided I had to be dropped off outside the gates so I would have to walk past the press. After I found out about this, I was in a car with my friends Norma Augenblick and Steven Klein, and Norma said to Steven, "You should shoot this."
I arrive at 7:50 and walk into the warehouse past a horde of press who are lined up along this drive that's about 100 feet long, kind of like a catwalk. It's absolutely crazy. My focus is on getting to my job, keeping my head up and looking forward to another new experience. I sign in and show my I.D. I'm not allowed to bring my cell phone inthough all the other people doing service seem to have theirs. At first I'm told I'll have to put on my orange vest where the press can see me. Later, Mr. Barry, who is my supervisor and is absolutely lovely, says I don't have to, but if that's the picture they want, I'm just going to put it out there so it's over and done.
Everyone else at the Sanitation turns out to be really pleasant too. I meet so many different sorts of people and find out how much the people who work there do for the city. Maybe doing this service at the Sanitation was meant to be like a humiliation punishment, but it isn't at all.
I head to my locker and change into my work clothes and am told, along with two other people, to sweep the garage. We start sweeping so intently and get a rhythm going. I have to tell you, I find solace in sweeping. I have no other responsibilities. I have no phone. I have time to think. I just have, you know, peace.
As we are working, one of my coworkers tells me how he ended up here, which was basically because of alcohol. I bond with him, and I tell him I'm in recovery. I started doing drugs when I was 23, as a recreational thing. I had no idea of the effect it would have on me. I had been discovered at 14 and brought into the business at 15. There's no handbook to teach you how to deal with this business. It's been such a roller coaster. Before long, I started taking drugs to escape or deal with some disaster, like when someone died. I lost a lot of friends in 1997, and that was the year I really fell down emotionally. I first sought treatment for my addictions in 1999, and then went in and out of recovery. I'd be okay for a couple years and think I had things under control, but then I would relapse.