Wednesday, June 08, 2011
And You Can't Make Me
Imagine the heaviest Southern American drawl you can coming from a rather disheveled man with missing and broken teeth. As a business owner in New York City interviewing employees for over 40 years, I have seen a lot of things - like a woman who arrived for her job interview with an electric guitar slung around her neck. But now I was in new territory - apparently someone in government was testing my fairness in hiring practices, because this man would scare the hell out of most city folk.
He said he was from somewhere in the deep South, I don't recall where. But it was deep. Real deep. And unfortunately, everything I know about the South was learned through films, particularly Deliverance and In the Heat of the Night. These films will not give you a very good impression of our Southern brothers and sisters, who are in fact renowned for their kind, sweet and hospitable manner.
However, any positive thoughts I may have had about Southerners was not going to be evoked by a scruffy man with broken and missing teeth. Nonetheless, I tried to remain fair, interviewed him and gave him a brief tour of our production area where he would be working. He appeared confident and hungry to work. He was up North for the first time in his life, seeing if he could make it here. He was staying with someone he knew in New Jersey. He seemed so terribly out of place.
A quick tour around the shop and he asserted "I can run any machine in here. And I will do anything. I'll clean toilet bowls with a toothbrush." If you can imagine this being said with an extreme southern accent, then you can appreciate why I say everyone has their limits and I had reached mine.
After discussing the candidate with an employee, I was encouraged to keep an open mind - "I don't think you should discriminate on the basis of appearance." I guess, but isn't there a limit? I decided to defer to another employee, an NYU film student. She said: "I think we're talking Deliverance." Thank you Christine. I don't need to be terrifying my employees, do I?
At 69 Bayard Street in Chinatown, we have the 69 Bayard Restaurant. This establishment has been in operation for eons and is most well known for its walls which are completely covered in one dollar bills, signed by patrons. Like Wo Hop at 17 Mott Street, 69 Bayard is open 24 hours a day - one of those things so many love about New York City and hard to find elsewhere. Like Kiev or Veselka in the East Village, 69 Bayard is often frequented by late night bar (or club) goers who want to eat after bar closings (4 AM).
As with many inexpensive New York City restaurants, 69 Bayard gets the full gamut of reviews, from the reverential, declaring it to be the best, to those who absolutely abhor the place. It certainly qualifies as an example of pick two, in this case fast and cheap (see my story here). Reading any online review site, like Yelp.com, can not only be informative, but also quite entertaining. Many of the most caustic reviews are actually quite comical and well written. I recommend reading Yelp reviews for entertainment as well as for information.
Once as a child, while playing with matches, I recall my father telling me to put them down. I told him "no, and you can't make me." Of course that solitary act of defiance was short lived - I put down those matches. Since that time, I have played with matches - one of the perks of being an adult is a greater freedom to make choices. I try to chose my restaurants too.
I recently passed by 69 Bayard. I popped in quickly to take a photo of the legendary dollar-covered walls. However, I did not eat there. I've eaten in my fair share of greasy, dirty looking places and one-trick is not enough to get me to pay for a pony show. Now, as an adult, I make choices. I never hired that man from the deep South and I can't tell you what the food is like at 69 Bayard because I'm not eating there. And you can't make me :)
Related Posts: Harder to Keep Full, War Against Disservice Part 2, In Your Hand, Levis, Film and Corn, Mulberry Street, Slummin', No MSG, Greasy Spoon, Hallmarks & Earmarks, At Arm's Length