“Long overdue”, the words of my boss’s boss on feedback from my trip to the East Coast this week. Further confirmation (if it was ever needed) that meeting my colleagues at our corporate ‘mothership’ in Islandia, Long Island, should have happened a while ago.
Travelling on business may sound glamorous but as I have to remind everyone I speak to, I was actually in the US to work. Yes I was lucky enough to add the weekend on for leisure and we booked an apartment in East Village via AirBnB. Days are packed with an early start at 8:30am (okay a little late by by my early standards but I have to factor in I was with a colleague). Video conference with manager back in Ditton Park and our colleague in Rome before getting down to a full day of packed meetings, lunch (usually at a restaurant nearby) and working until 6-6:30pm, before having a meal out with colleagues in the evening.
Some of you may not be aware, but I have a companion, professional blog hosted over at Blogger. Two thousand six hundred and fifty days ago I posted about some of the cities I had been lucky enough to have visited thanks to my job and employer. I even wonder where my career will take me across the globe. I put this down to two things. Luck – I just happened to be at the right place at the right time for an opportunity to present itself. The second is perhaps the biggest (and most underrated) component – sheer hard work.
New York was everything I expected and so much more. There are many little stories to tell but I will select just one. As you know I have a habit of spotting the rich and famous, while out and about. Although mostly when I pop into our dear capital. On Saturday my day was packed, after catching the football at The Blind Pig, I walked down to The 9/11 Memorial, before going across to The New York Stock Exchange, failing to get a photo with The Charging Bull, as it was covered by so many tourists and walking back down Broadway back to our apartment. I had a quick shower and changed (out of my retro Arsenal top) and into something more suitable for the evening. It was beginning to get dark, as I headed over to Times Square.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe today is the day to reveal my superpower to the world. I have an amazing sense of direction. I can never get lost. I can just land in any city, anywhere in the world and within 30 minutes with the help of a map I can familiarise myself with my surroundings and away we go. Probably the best feedback I have is from my dearest friend, Tom Fox, whom on Pav’s Stag Do in Berlin in May 2011, stated, “I’m so glad you are here Teg, all I see are lines! (when referring to the map I was consulting for the next part our trip). Once I got an understanding of the American street system (our driver who took us from Long Island into Manhattan, had been extremely helpful to cement our knowledge). So I had planned out the following, head over to see The Flatiron Building before walking down 7th Avenue, past landmarks such as Madison Square Gardens to reach Time Square as Saturday evening switches to Saturday night. As I made my way up 7th Avenue, I was, as usual, people spotting while listening to music on my mp3 player. I noticed an amazing open top Jeep parked up on the curb (trying hard to get my terminology correct). My attention then switched to the driver, who was speaking to a pedestrian. It took a few seconds but the driver was none other than Tyson Beckford. You will remember him in Derek’s corner from the walk-off scene from Zoolander but aside from this cameo, he is a supermodel for the Ralph Lauren Polo. A British couple had noticed him too and we had a brief chat as we continued down the street. How could he just look so amazing, even at the age of 45. Some of us have to make an effort, some people just wake up like that. I was looking forward to sharing this story with my wife and female colleagues back at the office. While Michelle knew who I was referring to, my colleagues mistook Tyson for Tyrese Darnell Gibson (of Fast & Furious fame). “Oh the guy from the Pepsi advert…” Erm no Andrea, that is not the celebrity I spotted in New York.
There was a group of ladies going on a family trip to New York on our flight, just before we took off from Heathrow discussing their plans, the sights they planned to see, bars and restaurants they intended to visit. While I had made zero plans and went with the flow to a certain extent, this does give further reason to head back and explore other parts of the city that never sleeps.