The later years

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So I get to Hoboken. I remember my first memory of driving up here in September 1994, with a van full of random knick knacks and clothing for my new apartment in Brooklyn Heights.

Brooklyn Heights?!

Yea I first moved up to Brooklyn Heights. My oldest friend Brad was living there at the time, right where Atlantic Avenue and the BQE meet.

Anyhow, back to the memory. I remember driving along the BQE, with its view of Brooklyn. squirrel1004.jpg
Abandoned cars, grafitti and the sprawl of urban humanity lay before me like a tawdry nightmare. Cheap, boxy apartment buildings scour the landscape, dejected neighbors shuffle down the street and gone are the familiar trappings of suburban society. Heck, even the squirrels up here looked mean.

I lived in Brooklyn Heights from September 1994 to March 1995 - my parents got tired of watching me loaf around their house and not having any plans to find a "real job". They knew that Brad was in New York and they "strongly persuaded" (i.e. Decided for me) me to move up to NYC and find a job.

My memories of that section of Brooklyn was that it was like a surreal version of Philadelphia. I may love my hometown, but I really don't think I would want to live in most of that city, either. I'm a suburban Philly kid and coming to Brooklyn was like, at first, a big step down in my life in some ways. I had a comfortable nest that I was living in, and I was a recent graduate from Villanova the past spring.

To me, the city was dreary, cold and gray. I felt like every time I left my apartment I had to "go somewhere" - like I couldn't just wander around, I had to be going to a specific destination. Also the people in Brooklyn were all middle aged democrat crunchy yuppies. I remember the late 30-something moms walking their babies around in carriages that hook up a lot of room on the sidewalk.

There wasn't a real sense of community to me in Brooklyn Heights, I had a real sense of being alone while I was there. I didn't have family in NYC, and my only friend was Brad. I didn't have a job when I first moved up, so my first weeks was filled with me reading the New York Times, faxing my resume to the numbers listed in the ads and watching daytime TV.

I finally get the call.

My first job in the city.

I get a call from a retailer that was opening up their first 3 stores in NYC, called "Starbucks Coffee Company". Never heard of them. But I needed a job, and they directed me to go to Bleeker Street where they had a training program for new hires.

So I get down there, and the program was pretty intense. They taught us all about coffee, how to brew coffee, customer service skills. I worked in retail before, in fact every summer I worked in retail and during my junior and senior year of high school I also worked during the school year a few nights a week in Electronics Boutique (a computer store) - but no one had a training class like this. It went for 2 three hour sessions a week for 3 weeks, and you got paid, too.

So I tell my parents that I got a job with Starbucks and they give me the same response that any parent who just sent their child to four years of school at the cost of $80,000 - shock and surprise. I think the reaction would be akin to if I had told them I decided to be a shirtless cage dancer in a gay S&M club.

Times were tough in 1994. It was the end of a recession, that basically went from 1989-1993. When I got to NYC there were a lot of lame jobs that were available. I went to a recruiting office, they would look over a persons resume and see if they had any jobs available. Again, the theme in NYC was how unfriendly and cold people were to me. I get to this office, the girl looks over my resume and says: "Looks like the resume of someone who had a lot of partying and very little studying."

Sad part is that I really didn't do THAT much partying - but then again I really didn't do that much studying, either. But that isn't the point. The point is that - Hey, give me a break. I'm sitting in your office like some schmoe looking for a job and this is what the recruiter first says to me. Thanks a lot, bitch.

So Ms. ColdHeart send me to my first job interview, which was with a medical university - in the Bahamas.

They called me for an interview at their office, and I remember it was in a very scary looking office building - with people who worked there that looked like office zombies. You had the secretaries with the frozen in place hair and snapping their gum while they talked to you: "Hav a seat thear, sir. The dyerectorah will beah with yohu in ah mohment." God, the 'Strong Island' accent really grates on my nerves, it immediately lowers my IQ just listening to it.

So i'm ushered into a windowless room, surrounded by file cabinents, a cheap wooden desk and a guy who looks like a disheveled english professor. He tells me about the "university" and how its not exactly board certified and that most of the students are foreigners who first study there and then come to the U.S. to get certified, or something like that.

It sounded REALLY shady - but they had full benefits and were willing to pay me a yearly salary of $25,000 - which would put more cash in my pocket than Starbucks. Plus, I needed to get my foot in the door somewhere and get something on my resume. I tell them that I will think about it, and go back to Brooklyn Heights. This is around mid-October 1994.

I get a call the next day from headhunter named Scott Lyons. I remember the name because I also had a neighbor from Richboro with that name - and as we all know the recollection of names from our childhood is strange. I can rattle off about 30 names (first and last) from my kindergarten class yet when I meet someone today I have to force myself to remember their name or I forget it in a few moments.

So Scott tells me about a company in the city which is a financial computer company with about 1500 employees located in midtown. Sounds interesting, but I never heard of the company, lets call it, "Company X".

So I get to Company X, take one step off the elevator and immediately know that this is the place I want to work. This place was slick, with people moving crisply around the office, glass walls, big exotic fishtanks, a large free food court that was like a mini WaWa (7-11 for your NYC folks). This place was great. I had 5 interviews over the next 2 days with the Company X. It wasn't terribly difficult, everyone who worked in the office seemed to be around 22-30 years old, so you didn't meet with some old, tired-looking office zombies - you were in this really happening post-college environment with people who were really enthusiatic about their job and what they had to offer.

I called Starbucks and told them I quit. I called Strange Foreign University and told them I wasn't interested. Things were really getting interesting in the big city for the first time in 2 months and my feeling of dread was starting to abate.

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on October 8, 2004 9:39 AM.

Understanding the Philadelphia Sports Fan was the previous entry in this blog.

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