Sleepy in the “City That Never Sleeps”

“New York, New York it’s a wonderful town, The Bronx is up and The Battery down…”

Rockefeller Center

I’ve been in New York since Sunday. Today is Wednesday but it seems like I’ve been here much longer. I like New York. I like the diversity. I like the energy. I like the pace. I like all the sights and sounds. I like the food. I like the architecture. I even sort of like shopping here (don’t tell Deb). But this has been a busy week with meetings and store tours and I’m TIRED. It’s hard to stay upbeat when you feel beat-down.

Today is another day of meetings and then dinner with a client. Which, truth be told, will be a lot of fun. And I’m not really complaining because I love my job and I realize that sitting in some meetings and hailing taxis to get to your next appointment is not REAL WORK, especially compared to someone who is doing an important job like performing brain surgery or delivering hearts for transplant or saving souls. And while I’m well aware of where my job falls on the scale of significance to humanity, I’m still tired. Doesn’t matter if some of what I’m doing at times is trivial, it still takes time, energy and some brain power. You try getting cross-town in Manhattan during rush hour!

I passed by St. Patrick Cathedral earlier today and couldn’t help but stop and think about how it is this bastion of holiness in the midst of the unholy commercial madness on Fifth Avenue. And here I am contributing to the unholiness of it all! But somehow God (and Saint Patrick) reminded to think about the more important things: life, love, laughter. So there I was in front of Saks Fifth Avenue having a “conversion moment” and thanking God for a faith that sustains me even through the madness of my chosen career.

I’m sleepy in the “City That Never Sleeps”. But I’ll just stop at one the gazillion Starbucks® that appear to be on every corner here in Manhattan, fuel up and keep on keepin’ on. I can sleep tomorrow on the flight home.



Business As Usual

I was in New York this week to meet with customers. That’s my story – it was business as usual. Fly into La Guardia; take the car service to my hotel in Mid-town; grab a quick-lunch; make my appointments. Easy-sneezy.

But New York is never easy. And New York in summer (with all the wonderful tourists) is really not easy. Now I know that for a lot of folks New York is very exciting and a “first time destination” but I’m there several times a year and I’m (usually) on a mission to get there; get it done; get out. It’s not that I don’t like New York – I actually love New York, I just really don’t have time for staring up at the skyscrapers or leisurely walking down 5th Avenue or Times Square – I’ve got to be somewhere; with someone; doing something REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT! It’s just business as usual.

Now what is it that I do actually? It’s a bit of mystery. And I want to keep it that way. Now that I have international accounts, I suppose that you could say that I’m an “International Man of Mystery” (but in the boring world of retail store fixture design, manufacturing, and installation). But that’s beside the point. I’ve “boiled it down” to this – my customers give me “pretty pictures” and I make “pretty fixtures” (no not light fixtures – we build cabinets, counters, racks, display walls – it’s the stuff that the stuff that you suckers – sorry consumers – buy is stacked and hung on). Very important work – without me you wouldn’t experience the joy of relinquishing your disposable income in well-appointed department and specialty stores. You’d be buying your pickles out of a barrel. That’s all I can tell you. How the magic happens must remain a mystery. The truth is: I’m not even sure.

Bryant Park with the New York Public Library in the background

This week in New York one of my customers had a conflict and at the last-minute she cancelled our meeting (we opted for speaking on the phone, which for the record I could have done from St. Louis) so I had a free afternoon. And I walked. I walked from Bryant Park in midtown to Ground Zero downtown. For one sweet afternoon in June it wasn’t business as usual. I actually S L O W E D  D O W N and walked (kind of like a tourist) through some of my favorite neighborhoods (Flat Iron, Chelsea, SoHo, Greenwich Village) and parks (Madison Park, Union Square and Washington Square Park) –  it was such a guilty pleasure!

My day ended with a brief meeting and a great dinner with my best customer (and friend), some great conversation and (a little) wine. Finally we went to a roof top bar on 5th Ave for (a few) drinks. My laugh muscles were sufficiently “worked out”.  That night we celebrated the conclusion of some successful projects. We shared fond memories from the past. And we looked forward to future endeavors. This is how business should be done – in a city that never sleeps, with spectacular weather, with people who you respect and admire, at good restaurants and nice night clubs.

Monday I guess it’s back to business as usual (maybe). But it will remain a mystery!