Friday, November 27, 2009
All the Way ...
Today is Black Friday, the start of that period which most retailers have waited for all year.
However, dealing with the constant onslaught of customers can be wearing. The vast majority of people are decent human beings, but there is a percentage that can be unreasonable, and that number can test the nerves of even the most patient.
I had a close friend who was a New York City native and had been in retailing for all of his adult life. His father had also been a businessman. He was a nice person, but as is typical of many New Yorkers, he was a no-nonsense person who will only tolerate so much. That limit is easily met any day in retail. His conclusive statement to stories of others or his own about the horrors of the business was a sarcastic "Welcome to retail."
One thing you learn quickly in business is the sense behind scheduled breaks and lunch. If you don't take them at preappointed times, you will most likely find yourself eating lunch on the run at 4:30 in the afternoon.
On a morning sometime in the 1970s, said friend was eating his croissant fifteen minutes prior to the store's opening in the morning at the health food store he was managing in Queens. Being the seasoned retailer that he was, he had established a firm rule of eating before opening. On this occasion, a woman with an unusual sense of urgency appeared banging at the door, insisting she be let in before the official opening hour. I don't recall the specific reason, but she added fuel to her plea with the statement: "But I came all the way from Bayside, Queens." This refrain was repeated ad nauseum emphasizing the words "all the way from Bayside, Queens." My friend's response was, "I don't care where you come from, lady, I am finishing my croissant and I am not opening this door before 9 AM." The war across the pane of glass continued and, as you might expect, the door was not open until 9 AM.
Since that time, I have had the nagging need to visit Bayside and achieve closure. It has been only a small nagging need, however, so it was not until one week ago that on my visit to Flushing, I decided to go all the way to Bayside, Queens and see what the neighborhood was like.
I really had no expectations but was completely astounded at how beautiful much of this neighborhood was. Bayside is in the extreme eastern section of Queens, abutting Little Neck Bay and Nassau County, Long Island. This accounts for the more suburban feel - there are many unattached homes, porches and yards. Although Bayside is not that familiar to the outsider, it is one of the most expensive housing markets in the United States and is considered one of the most desirable communities to live in New York City, with great schools and a very low crime rate. The main shopping district along Bell Boulevard has a charming ambiance. At one time, many celebrities lived in Bayside and strolled Bell Boulevard. From the New York Times:
Houses with water views, although separated from Little Neck Bay by the Cross Island Parkway, are likewise one of a kind.One of these is said to have belonged to W. C. Fields, who, like Gloria Swanson, Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino and Norma Talmadge, lived in the area when Astoria Studios was in its heyday. Miss Swanson is said to have once walked down Bell Boulevard with a pig on a leash.
So, if you have a car and are interested in exploring the outer reaches of New York City, perhaps after a harrowing visit to the Hole or Willets Point, try going All the Way to Bayside Queens :)
Related Posts: I can not so much as hear "Bayside, Queens" without this incident coming to mind, much like hearing "Kissena Boulevard" or "comin' up."