Thursday, July 13, 2006

New York has changed (or, when I fall off the wagon, I really fall off the wagon)

This was my week for breaking the eat local rules. Monday and Wednesday I had staff lunches to attend, but ate local breakfasts and dinners. But Tuesday - well, Tuesday I hauled down from Boston to New York for a job interview, and as far as I was concerned, all bets were off.

What's ironic about that is that the job was a position at an (unnamed) organization devoted to the promotion of sustainable agriculture. So I was taking a break from my commitment to sustainable agriculture to try to get a job in the field. Of course.

The short story on the job is that I don't think it's going to work out. The long story I'm not going to put online. Let's just make a suggestion to anyone doing hiring out there - if someone takes a day off from work at a busy time, lies to her trusting boss, and comes all the way from another state at great expense and inconvenience, it might be helpful if you've actually 1) looked at her resume or 2) bothered to free up the schedule of the person she needs to meet with so that the interview process can be more than ten minutes long. I'm just sayin'. Also, if you're the person who HAS the job your company is recruiting to fill because you're leaving? Don't use the words "burnt out" or "monotonous." Really not very appealing.

At the airport I had a bagel and blessed, blessed coffee. Blissful coffee. I arrived in the city a good three hours before I needed to be there, and so I walked. I walked for almost the whole three hours, with only a short break to eat a cinnamon-walnut swirl at the City Bakery. (Which was rather disappointing, by the way. I have Maury Rubin's tart book, and I worship him, but that was a pretty dull cinnamon swirl.) In some ways, New York has not changed. The smell of barely-burnt pretzel wafts from street corners. The bodegas still offer the most amazing selection of flowers. I was pretty high on being in New York for those first few hours, while I was imagining a life there, back in the big city, with a fabulous job doing something important for the world, attending conferences with intelligent, concerned people, eating amazing food.

But then I went to the interview. And when I came out, I was a bit, well, demoralized. And it was nearing one-hundred degrees. Didn't I mention that? So I walked some more, and went into Grand Central, which I hadn't seen since the ceiling had been cleaned, and I admired the market there (comparing a train station with its own Penzey's to the Dunkin Donut and McDonald's wasteland that is North Station in Boston), and then I decided that what I really needed was a drink. It was terribly, terribly hot, I was taking a day off of local eating, I was in the city, and I wanted a gin and tonic, damnit.

And this is why I say New York has changed.

I walked from Grand Central vaguely in the direction of the bus terminal, where I would be getting my luxury ride home. (Yup, plane down, bus back - because I'm half cosmopolitan, half poor.) I wandered a bit up and down the streets. I saw about five thousand places to get a cup of coffee, nearly as many places to buy freshly squeezed juice, and a few hundred sushi restaurants. What I did not see was a bar. Really, for blocks and blocks, just cafes and juice bars and pizza places and a few fancy restaurants that probably had bars, but were not open or were far too intimidating. I wanted a sandwich and a G&T. In the New York I remember from only a few years ago, that would not have been a problem. What had happened? I was outraged. Also, sweaty.

I finally found a terrible, overpriced, tourist-trap of a deli with a bar, and while waiting for my drink, I had to shoo a cockroach off the table. So maybe New York hasn't changed all that much after all.

1 comment:

The Jeff Next Door said...

Oh! One of the nicest, best cocktail bars in the city is right there in Grand Central! The Campbell apartment (formerly the posh "office" of Mr. Campbell) has been completely restored and is serving delicous, and wonderfully cold, cocktails. Next time you're coming for a job interview, you should let some of the locals know. :-)

Sorry about the interview, but sounds like you have the right instincts about the job.