Even in unemployment I can’t get away from the Empire State Building

The company I last worked for had its offices in the Empire State Building, one of the city’s (even the world’s) most iconic buildings. The company used the ESB in its promo material and seemed to get a lot of mileage out it. Given that I was marketing manager, I spent a good deal of time leveraging the Building’s image and reputation for our nefarious purposes. And I have to say that having an office there did impress (or intrigue) people, at least people who didn’t know any better. I was pretty impressed too, initially.

The Empire State Building is a symbol of capitalism and possibility in America. But the truth is anyone can have their offices there if they’re willing to pay a premium for it. The Building is filled with small companies and start-ups. I don’t think any tenants take up more than part of a floor. So while it’s an achievement to start and run a company, it’s really not an achievement to have an office in the ESB. It’s more of a strategy.

After about 2 weeks of working in the Empire State Building the novelty of it all became a big hassle. The area around it is packed with tourists and shops catering to tourists. Just walking the block to and from the Herald Square stop is a slalom course of Europeans, Japanese and Midwesterners taking pictures of themselves. Everything is more expensive, even than the already high Manhattan prices. 2 slices of pizza and a soda – for example – cost me $13 bucks at the neighboring Sbarro. And it wasn’t even that good.

So one good thing about the layoff is I don’t have to go to the Empire State Building anymore. The problem is that I can’t get away from it. Everywhere I go, there it is. EVERYWHERE! And with it the constant reminder of my unemployment.

I think the Empire State Building might actually be following me, but I haven’t gathered enough evidence to go to the police. The windows of my apartment in Queens all face west, and unless it’s foggy, I can see it. Whenever I open the blinds – day or night – there it is, looking in my window, watching. The 7 train – one of my local trains – runs above ground for much of its route. If I sit facing the right direction, there’s the Building is on the horizon. As the train moves, the ESB ducks behind smaller buildings in the foreground. But I know it’s there. Something that big just can’t hide. Even if I sit facing the other direction, it lurks still, staring at the back of my head. Communitea – one cafes I visit for a change of scenery – is in Long Island City, right across the river from Manhattan’s east side. Look down any block and there is the Empire State Building hovering above, not even trying to be discreet.

The Empire State Building will probably go away when I find another job. But in the meantime, I guess I just have to deal with it.

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  • 2 Comments
    1. amanda wrote:

      It just occurred to me: have you read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay yet? The Empire State Building is featured in it. Might be a timely read.

      Wednesday, December 3, 2008 at 10:57 am | Permalink
    2. ROZ wrote:

      Your comments about the Empire State Building reminded me of my teaching job at the United Nations. I taught there a couple of evenings a week after my day job teaching at NYU. I felt so important going into the UN. How many people have the chance to do that. One day I found myself heading in the revolving doors as UThant was heading out. Enough to swell your head with your own importance.

      But the bottom line was that a bureaucracy is a bureaucracy. And the United Nations is the biggest bureaucracy there is. And most of the poeple who work there with titles after their names are full of themselves.

      In all honesty though, I do like to mention this to people occasionally to inflate my own ego when necessary.

      Friday, December 12, 2008 at 5:29 pm | Permalink