Driving in slow traffic is like drinking lukewarm coffee. I promised myself never to do it, but I was in traffic day dreaming of my pitch appointment. My limit was 30 minutes in stand still traffic and I would pull over, park or walk to the nearest cafe. Since there was no shoulder to speak of on the FDR I was eager to get to the closest exit. Gladly there would be many cafes to choose from. I pulled off at 59th and uncharacteristically there was a parking spot. It was strange but I parked and decided to walk north.
My appointment was at 10am but it was only 833am so I was in the breakfast rush. Why was I here this early? I knew the answer to that. My watch was an hour fast and so I was up and on the road much earlier than I should have been. Consequently, I was here at a cafe in the morning rush. Not my favorite place to be, but at least the line was moving briskly. I ordered a medium black coffee. It was very hot and my tongue paid the price for my impatience. The accompanying bagel was wonderful. It was a plain NYC style bagel with walnut-raisin cream cheese. I took a bite and the cold cream cheese cooled my scalded tongue. It was like kissing your high school sweetheart. You always have a sweet spot for her, but could never go back. However, I was still wondering why I had stopped having this combo. I knew exactly why. I had just lost 30 pounds and was never going to let myself be deceived by this wonderful experience again. I decided not to sit in the cafe but to go back to my car and relax with NPR.
As I walked and admired the bustle of Manhattan street life I felt a twinge of regret. Why did I ever leave? I instantly missed the hustle, the ice-covered sidewalks and the sweltering summer subway. The walking, suited masses were hustling along. I was moving slowly and looked down at my watch and was nearly run over by an anemic looking blonde. As I side-stepped her I slammed into a crazy redhead. We made eye contact and recognized each other instantly.
“Jenny? Jenny Black?”
I smiled and instantly my mind was awash in terror. I started to sweat heavily and stutter. I had not stuttered since grade school, and only in her presence.
“Give me a hug Mikey?”
I obliged and she squeezed me tightly without my reciprocation. I was tense and she knew it. She was trying to put me at ease. It was not working. I was standing in the middle of the sidewalk in Manhattan being hugged by my grade school bully. She released me but I was not able to escape her penetrating gaze. Her eyes where still as distinctive, but she had definitely grown into an attractive women.
“Mikey it’s been a long time. By the way, are you going to get your bag?”
“How long has it been?”
I was thinking not long enough, but I could not get the words out.
“20 years last month.”
I was surprised she was that precise.
“Where is your phone Mikey?”
I pulled it out, she tapped her phone to mine and her contact details were transferred.
She smiled and walked away. After 20 years she still commanded me. As she walked away I noticed that I had dropped my coffee and my bagel had been trampled. Luckily my suit escaped the split coffee. It felt as if I had been there for a lifetime. I checked my watch and it was only 5 minutes.
As I continued to walk I saw a meter-maid writing me a ticket. I ran to the car but it was too late. “$125!” There was nothing to do but pay it. I got into the car and sat there for the next 20 minutes reliving my 6th grade year. I was the eyeglass wearing, chess playing skinny kid. I was her “favorite” torture target. It had taken me years to forget and get over that year. In less than 5 minutes she had brought me back there. I turned my radio on and played some Bruno Mars for the next 15 minutes. It was all better now. It was 915am as I entered the highway and 15 minutes later I was downtown.
Wall Street always made me feel special. I loved this place, but my Cadillac CTS was out-of-place in a sea of limos. I pulled into the parking garage and made my way to the elevators. The morning rush was already over, so the elevator was empty. I followed my usual routine. I stopped at every 2nd floor until I got to the top. I stepped out into a magnificent lobby and was greeted by the reception staff.
“Good morning Mr Gold.”
“Morning. I hope will be a good one.”
He smiled and I was nearly blinded by the shine of his pearly whites. He handed me a bottle of water. I did not need it, but it was not a suggestion. I took it and placed it in my bag.
“Have a seat, they will call you.”
I continued my routine. I rehearsed my presentation in my head. I had made similar presentations many times. I was very good at it, but I was never very confident. This was my 13th pitch with 12 successes.
“Mr Gold, they will see you now.”
I got myself together and walked into the conference room. The room was smaller than I had imagined, but no less opulent. I took my place and made my presentation. It went well. They started asking questions which were easy for me to answer. They had a reputation of making decisions on the spot so I felt confident. Then she walked into the room and I lost my voice. 30 minutes later I was walking out without an answer.