“Joe, come in here for a second,” the fat guy with the small head said through the open door into the quiet waiting room. “So I spoke to a few of the guys here and they don’t really have anything for you right now, but here is my card anyway. We’ll be in touch alright.” I hardly had time to respond before the fat guy led me back out into the waiting room. The time was only 10:15am, my interview was for 10:00am. I know these recruiters work fast, but I hardly had five minutes with this dude, I thought to my self. With at least an hour and a half to kill until I met up with my girlfriend and her mother for lunch in mid-town I needed something to occupy my newly found free time.
It was a perfect summer day in New York; 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, perfect if you aren’t wearing a black suit and tie that is, needless to say I could feel the sweat rolling down my back. I walked a few blocks to Bryant Park, I remember passing it as I walked to my poor excuse for an interview with a recruiter. Taking a seat on a vacant bench I took out my phone and called Xue, my girlfriend, asking her if she could meet up at an earlier time. No luck, she was in Brooklyn, walking around to various hospitals inquiring about nursing positions. She just graduated and was looking for a job too. We were both looking in New York, and today was only day one of what would amount to a four day rat race around the boroughs of Manhattan (for me) and Brooklyn (for her); I was looking for work in banking, she, as mentioned before, was looking for nursing jobs.
Upon ending the call I pondered my dilemma. The waste of time interview left me in the middle of Manhattan with the adrenaline still pumping; unable to use that energy to impress an interviewer, I turned to the next best thing: find a new interview. Taking out my phone once more I did a search for recruiting firms. I cold called several of them, telling them I had time to meet today if they were available. Some places had no answer and others said they didn’t accept walk-in’s, another put me into the voice mail. After spending about thirty minutes calling various places I saw a strange number come up on the caller ID, it was a recruiter from the firm I left a message with, one of the places who did not apparently accept walk-in’s. The recruiter’s name was also Joe, but the coincidences did not end there. Joe, turned out was from Rhode Island, just like I was. We talked about Rhode Island for a minute before he invited me up to his office in the Chrysler Building for a meeting at 2pm. I was ecstatic! I know this isn’t that big of a deal, I mean, it isn’t like I got a job out of it, but it was simply the idea of making things happen so fast that got me excited, and the idea that sometimes a little extra (and unconventional) effort pays off occasionally. I had never done something like this before and had it actually work.
The meeting was scheduled for 2:00pm, I still had time to kill until lunch with Xue and her mother. Walking through the hot crowded Manhattan streets towards Macy’s on 34th and Broadway I called her once more only to find out that she was still in Brooklyn and would likely be there for a few more hours. I told her it was fine and that I had another interview to go to and that I would just have lunch alone; we could reconnect after the interview. I was disappointed that we could not have lunch together, I had been looking forward to it. With hunger now displacing disappointment though I made my way to the nearest Indian restaurant. It seems every time I eat lunch alone, it is either at an Indian or a Chinese restaurant, I don’t feel the stigma I would had I been eating at an American restaurant, save maybe a bar. The restaurant was perfect, crowded with tables full of Indian families speaking in Punjabi, or maybe Hind (I could not tell which), with its doors open to the bustling sidewalk; it warm and muggy inside, low ceilings, very dimly lit; the navy blue walls and the many Indian paintings hanging on the wall gave it the impression of being in a real Indian restaurant back in their home country. I felt like the American tourist coming in for some local flavor. Of course, this being New York, there really is no local flavor, unless you consider Brooklyn pizza to be the pinnacle of haute cuisine in the five boroughs. After eating my meal I asked the gentlemen at the counter to direct me towards the bathroom. He pointed to a small door in a nook partially covered by an Asian decorative screen on the back wall of the tiny restaurant. Faced with a stair case barely illuminated by the restaurant’s poor lighting I felt my way down into the bowels of the restaurant. Once I reached bottom it was totally pitch back and hot, like a coal mine, just with the sound of jack hammers and construction equipment replaced by the hum of the building’s boiler room. I felt along the walls, hoping for a light switch, fearing coming into contact with some exposed live wiring or a rusty nail. After about thirty seconds I found the switch and illuminated the absurdly small room. Everything was arranged in the most space efficient manner possible and the walls were painted a burgundy red. There was no trash on the floor or excrement spattered around the rim of the toilet, the sink was clean and there was both soap and paper towels ample in supply; it quite likely the nicest restaurant bathroom I had seen in the city that week after being in a locally owned cafe, a Starbucks and a KFC, all in mid-town. I hung my jacket on the door hook (another rarity) and tied my tie in the mirror – I had taken it off earlier while I was in Bryant Park. As I was doing this however I heard two men, one who had a thick Indian accent and another who sounded like he was from Boston, they were talking about some leak in the boiler room. I have to get out of here, I thought. I didn’t want to be down here if this place catches on fire or something. I quickly finished fixing my tie, put on my jacket and promptly went back up the dark stairs. I saw one of the men holding a flashlight… smart idea.
Manhattan had gotten even hotter by 1:30pm. The air was thick like cream cheese and filled with smoke from trucks and cigarettes. The heat generated by the herds of people and slow moving packs of cars and trucks was pulsing through my head causing me to sweat instantly upon being exposed to it. I had about six blocks to walk.
Walking into the lobby of the Chrysler building one is met with imposing and brooding architecture. The art deco motifs in marble, wood, mosaic and stainless steel are impressive but look almost like a movie set given its detail and conspicuousness. The elevators are styled accordingly and appear almost as they must have when the building was constructed. I could imagine a couple guys coming from a three martini lunch, smoking their cigars and talking about the next big railroad or oil deal, back in the day when this building was not a tourist attraction alone but a thousand foot plus tall boy’s club where men dressed in suits and had bottles of bourbon in a cabinet behind their desks. Those are the days I wished I worked in. The elevator let me off at the 27th floor and immediately I was plunged 75 years into the future, or present as it were; dark walnut sconces and brown marble gave way to glossy white walls illuminated by florescent lights and accented by plasma screen monitors displaying news and stock quotes, soft gray carpeting beneath my feet was a welcome change to the hard surfaces of the streets. There were glass double doors open which gave way to a medium size waiting room with a fantastic view of downtown Manhattan. A woman at the front desk greeted me and then showed me to a small conference room with a view equally as good of the many little roof decks and patios over looking the streets below. Buildings seemed to go on for miles down to the tip of the city.
“Would you care for a drink?” the secretary offered.
“Water, please.” I replied.
“Here you are sir, please have a seat, Joe will be in to see you shortly.”
I sipped that water slowly and took in the view. I had the corner office at the Chrysler Building with a view of Manhattan all to my self, I thought… for ten minutes anyway. That was the best glass of water I had during the whole trip.