Jesus is guarded, BLT manager Josh
Fosset told me. He's great at what he does and never misses a shift. But he keeps
private his personal life private. He's wary of being photographed for fear of revealing his missing teeth, which Josh said he lost while biting down on a
hidden chicken bone. As a result, Jesus now rarely allows his picture to be taken.
He's not a shy man, though. Almost every
word out of his mouth is carefree and ebullient. On this day, he was
especially excited that he'd be able to make his deliveries on foot. "On a bike
you can't see anything," said Jesus. "You watch for the cars and the trucks,
but walking you get to look at the architecture and the buildings."
As he turned the corner of 6th
Avenue onto 12th Street, Jesus's head swiveled back and forth as he ogled the symmetrical
rows of beige, stuccoed town houses that flanked him on either side. He paused beside
one with wrought iron moldings and lifted his hand, bag included, to point
intently at its windows.
"The, the -- the arches!" he exclaimed, finding the right word and grabbing my arm for
emphasis. "They're great. Look at the curves!"
Jesus seemed professorial as he entered the lobby of the building on 12th Street. His salt and pepper
hair was slicked back, thinning slightly and receding at the sides, and his
black, demi-tortoise shell thin-rimmed glasses reflected the lobby's dark
marble interior. If it weren't for the delivery bags in his hands, an onlooker
might have mistaken Jesus for a tourist.
He didn't go upstairs but handed
his delivery bag over to a middle-aged, dreary-looking doorman who gave Jesus a
$3 tip. After four years of
working this beat, Jesus is acquainted with many of the neighborhood doormen,
not in the chummiest of ways, but with the tacit understanding that Jesus may
take a few photographs of the art and architecture while he's there. The
doormen, Jesus said, never seem to mind.
The next building, on 11th
Street, was one Jesus's favorites. Unlike the lobby on 12th, with its dim
lighting and murky atmosphere, this one was resplendent, with beams of light
bouncing off of the moldings and marble floor. There were gold adornments
everywhere -- on the doors, aligning every chandelier, and on the arches in the
ceiling. It was The Breakers meets Greenwich Village, and Jesus gawked with his
head tilted upwards. After a few more seconds, he exchanged a few pleasantries
in Spanish with the doorman, who told him to head upstairs.
Once there, Jesus was meticulous
with his knock -- a strong tap, loud enough to be heard, but not so boisterous
as to disturb. After a few seconds, a young, petite blonde cracked open the
door to greet Jesus. She smiled, handed Jesus $2, and thanked him for the
food. With that, Jesus's run was over
-- two deliveries in a little under 20 minutes.