I left my heart in New York City, but not the one in the cappuccino
People who hailed cabs to the Javits Convention Center for the International Franchise Expo in June missed out on a street concert of NYC-patented sights, smells and sounds that bring to mind the chaos of an orchestra tuning up for the main show. On just Thursday alone, I spotted a woman crouched on her front stoop using her cell phone to take pictures of her toes; a reclining, underpanted Jim Gaffigan eating pink cotton candy atop a NYC cab marquee; and pedestrians crossing busy streets against the lights (OK, that was every day).
While road construction is a summer bummer in my city of Minneapolis, I don’t walk through it on my way to work, which is why I’m not a prophet in my hometown. In New York City construction creates pedestrian roadblocks, clouds of dirt and deaf-defying noise. I witnessed myriad people walking alone talking to themselves—and only half were on Bluetooth devices. My hat’s off to anyone who can hear the voices in their head above the traffic and construction hubbub.
Each day I took a different route to the convention center for maximum educational value. The second day I spotted an angry man handing out fliers next to a giant inflatable rat. The flier explained how to spot both a fake Coach brand bag and a fake moving and storage company, which apparently Coach was using. I think it would have been more effective if the rat was holding a fake Coach bag, but he had little hands like another famous New Yorker, so holding the bag was unlikely.
It may sound as if I had a religious experience at the IFE, but it was really discovering NYC is my soulmate (you expected me to say something corny like solemate, didn’t you?) that converted me. Which is also why after attending the IFE, I have a list of things I’m grateful for:
- That the IFE is in NYC. Don’t ever change it, MFV. I’m still miffed about the move from South Beach in January (see above mention of author’s hometown);
- That I discovered cappuccinos late in life;
- That after a year hiatus, I was still able to convince attorney Lane Fisher to be my co-moderator and that all six companies that presented with us sent well-informed, delightful people who knew how to share information and, more importantly, the microphone with each other;
- For franchise trade missions and running into Ahmed El Daly, founder and CEO of Engineerius, who I had met in Cairo a few years ago on the Middle East trade mission. Amazingly, he remembered me; and it was so good to see him bring his concept for teaching engineering and math to youngsters in America;
- That Carré d’ Artiste, an art store I stumbled across with Publisher Mary Jo Larson in Paris, is franchising. I like the concept of three sizes of original paintings and three prices. Plus, it helps emerging artists and art lovers with emerging wallets;
- Spending time at dinner with Jeff Kolton and his wife Jeriann. Jeff is one of my oldest (tenure) friends in franchising and reminds me why I love my job. Missed connecting with IFA’s Josh Merin and franchise attorney Lee Plave, for which I’m not grateful;
- Seeing rainbow-lit windows and signs that said: “We are Orlando.” It makes me hopeful that we may see more love in the world and not just swirled in cappuccinos.
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Once you’re on a plane traveling home with visions of uninterrupted sleep in your head, there are seven words you never want to hear, especially if you’re in the middle seat and the speaker is in the window seat: “Can I have some extra barf bags?”
My husband and I both quickly searched the seat pockets in front of us to donate our bags, since the airline employee blew her off. But in fairness, the employee explained he wasn’t working the flight. (HR tip: Tell your employees when they’re in uniform, even if they’re not on duty, they have to pretend to care.)
I thought about moving my purse to the overhead bin and tucking the red blanket around me like a bib, but I’ve never been good at disaster preparedness. I’m a seat-of-the-pants kinda person.
As it turned out, the barf bags were not needed, but I stayed awake just in case… A weekend in NYC teaches you to keep an eye on your surroundings at all times so you don’t miss a memory.