The Fourth Floor, Monterey, California

They’ve been painting the trim on our office building. What does it feel like to be four stories up standing on a suspended platform, hanging from ropes? I’m sure I’d look around––Wow, I can see the marina––if I fall, I’ll hit that pink Ford Mustang, and what happens if I have to spit? After a few minutes, I’d take my mind off the view and the danger and focus on the job, scraping away the old, flaking past, patching and sealing, dipping a brush into a new color, and applying it to someone else’s office.

I can see the painter through the window, but he can’t see me, so the connection’s clear, no interaction, so no supposition. Any tension from social stratification is hidden behind the blinds. The link is clean because it’s incomplete. He goes about his work without the burden of self-consciousness. I do the same. Once in a while, I look up and watch him work, moving window to window, then back again for a second coat. Day after day, he’s hanging off the side of the building. Scraping away the past and applying the future.