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You may have missed a bus, or somebody cancelled a scheduled meeting.
You may have just not greeted someone on the street, or intentionally not pick up the phone.
You may have pushed someone by accident, or your car broke at the most inconvenient time.
Do you think these things are insignificant in life and do not mean anything? What if it is just the opposite? What if life consists of seemingly insignificant things?
The New York Metro was pretty full that Monday morning. The Brooklyn Subway was just quickly advancing over Battery Park to the next stop, Bowling Green. Jim was travelling for only 9 minutes when the subway stopped with squeaks. The door opened and people of different ages, styles, and perhaps, of every possible world nationality, began to flock to the subway. Jim has been seeing this scene repeatedly for several years, almost every day. His journey to work begin every day with his departure from his small rented flat at St. Marks Ave in Brooklyn, where he lives with his wife and two children. From there, he walks to the Atlantic Terminal subway station, where he gets on line 5.
Every morning before he enters the subway, he buys a takeaway coffee in the nearby stall. Thanks to the great New York subway transport, he is at his stall “Goodpoint” on 1st Avenue in 40 minutes. Even though there were a lot of free seats around him, he would always stand. This Monday morning, there were a bit more people coming into the subway than usual, and a young couple crowded at Jim´s back. Just like everyone who did not have the luck of having earphones with their favourite music on, Jim could not do anything, and he was forced to witness their conversation.
“Are you crazy? I´m 23 years old. I don´t need such things. Besides, I've been here for less than a year!” With an angry tone, the young woman hinted to a man in a black coat her disapproval of something Jim and the other fellow travellers were about to learn in a few seconds.
“Elizabeth, I thought what we talked about yesterday was serious.” A man said, sadly, as if he did not want to believe what he was hearing. Hmm. Elisabeth, a very interesting royal name, Jim instantly connected her name with the English Queen Elizabeth.
“I meant it, Thorton, really, but realize I'm 23 years old, and I'm really not ready for a wedding. It seems to me like you rounded the bell. You aren´t financially secure, you are just a messenger in the paper, and you tell me you want to marry me, and you'll take care of everything?” Elizabeth raised her eyebrows, rolled her eyes and turned her head away from the shocked man's gaze.
“But why did you say --” The man did not finish the sentence. “I thought you meant a couple of years. Not the next week,” the girl interrupted with a sharp tone. “In two weeks, I will be leaving for home! Have you forgotten that?” The girl hit her forehead and nervously wiped it off.
Jim started feeling a little embarrassed. He did not want to be part of this conversation, and at that moment, he decided to buy an iPod for the future. Moreover, even though he was swirling back to the couple, he saw everything in the reflection of the subway window before him.
“I didn´t forget, but I thought --” The man did not finish the sentence again because the girl interrupted him once more.
“I thought, I thought,” she said out loud. “It seems to me that you haven´t been thinking for a long time! And I do not understand why we're still talking about this!” Elizabeth looked really angry. The man, on the other hand, looked calm but very surprised. The redness that sprang to his face didn't hide even under his stubble.
“Elizabeth, you ... just startled me,” he said, trying to talk his way to her in a quiet and calm voice. “Didn´t you say against everything we feel good together, and you've told me I'm the only guy you want to be with.”
“Thorton, listen to me one last time.” The whole carriage with a loud noise began to slow down, causing the couple to push on Jim even more. “I'm not marrying you! I'm going home in a few weeks, and I´m not coming back to America. I thought you were reasonable and understood what I said, but obviously, I must tell you in the American way and not in the polite language of a Londoner. It´s over! I no longer want to be with you! Don´t contact me anymore! Erase my number, and fingers crossed, you will pick an American in two weeks for whom this will be normal!” Elizabeth expressed her feelings in a threatening tone. Initially, she seemed to be trying to whisper, but suddenly, it moved from whispering to an angry cry. The carriage stopped suddenly, and the voice of the subway joined the shrewd pursuit of a man and a girl.
“Union Square.” A woman's voice spoke from the subway speakers, and the door opened.
“I´m off here! Bye!” The girl's angry voice burst at the man. “Elizabeth wait, two more stops.” He screamed at her but from the distance, all that was heard was only a loud, “don´t follow me!” The man remained where he was, clearly shocked. There was a great deal of surprise and frustration on his face. The crowd that had run into the subway forced him to move. In a moment, the metro door closed, and the metal snake snapped down in the underground to the next stop. It is true that in New York, such public fights were not uncommon, but it was a bit uncomfortable, and those who had the honour of hearing the interview were silent and pretended nothing got to their ears. Jim got off at his usual stop at the corner of 33rd Street and Park Avenue. When he walked up the stairs from the subway station to the street still sleeping, the early morning New York air cooled him. Deep breathing. At six o'clock in the morning, the city was already alive, but still not in full swing. The trucks were still running through the streets, the city's staff were cleaning the road, and the contours of the city were supplemented by billboards all around and always present. In many buildings, there were lights on already. It looked like the city that never sleeps actually may nap for a while, from time to time.
Jim was very glad he could finally get off the subway. He usually took this trip as a daily routine, but he couldn't stop thinking of the couple who had just split up a little while ago. He felt like being somehow connected to it, though it could not be true. But it certainly reminded him of one of the recent quarrels with his wife, Taria.
“Hello, Jim!” He heard from the distance the call of a big black man. “Save me, please, a copy of the Times today.”
“Sure Teo, No problem!” Jim yelled with a feigned smile while waving at Teo.
As he walked to his stall, various negative thoughts began to swirl in his head. He and his wife were crowded in a small apartment, and he knew she wanted to live in a better neighbourhood and a bigger flat. Of course, his wife, Taria, was a tolerant and smiling woman full of energy, but from time to time, Jim found her at home with her eyes red from crying. He had tried to ask her why she cried but was afraid to learn something unpleasant. A few months ago, however, Taria told Jim what it was all about in her weak moments. From that moment on, he could not stop thinking, and today's conversation of the young couple in the subway reminded him of it. However, he tried not to go to work with negative ideas because he knew that those would also negatively affect his business.
His stall, “Goodpoint,” was placed on the corner of 33 Street and 1st avenue in Kips Bay, Manhattan. It was a very good location because opposite to the stall is a huge medical complex of the New York University Langone Medical Center, which is, according to statistics, one of the best hospitals in New York. Next to his stall, just a few steps away from it, there is a large publishing house, Coltmann Books Publishing, which is housed in a pretty 27-storey building. The stall felt like an ant between these giants, trying to escape the human shoes before being stepped on. Every day, a lot of people walk past the stall, and that is why it was really a great strategic position for Jim. Especially taxi drivers waiting for patients, turned out to be good customers. Hospital staff who went out to buy their favourite magazine or people who came to buy various magazines for their loved ones who were in the hospital because of some injuries or illnesses. Neither passers-by nor people from the Coltmann Book's who came for takeaway coffee every morning were bad customers, too.
Goodpoint is a small rectangular-shaped stall with a little roof that served as a lockable door. When the stall is closed, it looks like an ordinary iron advertising booth, but when open, it is all blurred. There are electric candles around the stall, trying to shout that this is not just a stand with magazines. The open door of the booth is full of magazines. The whole centre of it is filled with the newspapers that are usually sold out the first. Even in the booth, they offered fresh takeaway coffee. Coffee, to a certain extent, functioned as an advertisement because its aroma spread to nearby surroundings, and the passers-by couldn´t resist. Especially during the winter. Recently, Jim decided that because of his position, he would change the model. He chose to offer only certain magazines and to add to his offer selected books on which he had a higher margin, and which were bought mainly by the people from the hospital across the street. They were so-called “bookshots.”
These were books with a price below $5 and a very brief and direct story. It was clear to him that he could not compete with bookshops or cafes where people could sit and enjoy reading their magazine or book, but he could at least get a little higher profits and probably less work. The books have rarely being bought by people, but thanks to a higher margin, he earned more. He, therefore, specialized in newspapers, books “bookshots,” and selling takeaway coffee. A friend of his, Roland, often came to help at the stall. They have been inseparable friends since they ran away from school one day together and tried to smoke cigarettes. None of them however kept this habit.
“Good morning, Roland!” Yelled Jim from a distance at his friend who was just opening the stall.
“Hey, sleepyhead, just in time!” His co-worker replied sarcastically.
“We all have that, buddy. Which kid didn´t want to sleep?” Roland asked with a sigh.
“Taria,” Jim answered with a laugh.
At that moment, Roland started laughing his head off. His perplexing laughter spread across the street that was just waking up.
“Then I put an imaginary hat down, sir.” He said with a gesture suggesting his captain hat, and bowed to Jim.
Roland was a big two-meter-tall guy who could barely just fit into the stall. That's why he liked to stand outside of it and pass coffee to people or their favourite prints. Sometimes, when they just didn´t have any customers, he would wear a huge newspaper glider and try to attract people to the stall or at least make the passers-by notice the booth. With his height, weight, and a manly, dull voice, it was impossible to overlook him. However, he was often enough silenced by the hospital security officer, because patients who heard his shouts, “Buy coffee and read your favourite newspaper from Goodpoint!” Or, “have you bought a newspaper today?” could not stand it, and complained.
But Roland didn´t care. When he couldn´t use his voice, he at least used his size. And that was really impossible to be overlooked. Roland was in charge of being in the booth every morning when new goods arrived. He did this consciously, and in his words, this work was very much fun. He was glad to know he could spend the day there and not have to worry about some stupid boss from whom he would have to ask permission even for going to the toilet.
Jim put his bag on a table in the stand and took out the mail he had found in the mailbox this morning. There were notices about unpaid bills and a long-awaited letter from the city. Jim stared at the unopened envelope and took a deep breath. Roland noticed it. “Fingers crossed, mate.” He mumbled through his teeth and stared at the envelope. Once again, Jim opened his mouth and opened the envelope. There was a sheet in it. Brief. There was a text that Jim feared about the most:
An application for the reduction of rent of stall at the corner of 33 Street and 1st Avenue is rejected.
Further, the letter continued with standard main features such as the description of the site, and the statement that the city had no relevant reason to reduce the rent.
“So, buddy?” Roland asked eagerly.
“Read it yourself.” He threw the open letter on the table, stood up from the chair, and walked out in front of the stall to unload the banner.
Roland came silently out of the booth, trying to comfort Jim because he was so disappointed.
“No, you don´t have to comfort me. I'm an adult. I can accept things without anyone’s shoulder.” Jim spoke to him. “It always works out somehow. I´ll think of something.”
“That´s a good attitude, Jimbo.” Roland encouraged his enthusiasm. “But I didn´t mean to comfort you; actually, I just wanted to tell you to make me a coffee.” He mumbled with a humorous grin, trying to ease the situation. “I´ll ask you for a strong one.” He shouted.
“I'll ask for 10 bucks in return.” Jim smiled as he adjusted the advertising banner to make it stand right.
“You think you don´t have a stall but a restaurant, don´t you? If you didn´t tell me to stop touching the coffee machine, I'd make the coffee myself.” Roland remarked, dressing up in a huge newspaper banner.
“If I allowed you to touch the coffee machine, I wouldn´t sell coffee, because there would be none left.” He responded quickly.
Roland was well-known for his huge coffee consumption. “Actually, I'm doing you a favour,” Jim added. “If you could make your coffee here, it would undoubtedly have caused you a heart attack a long time ago.”
“That's what I'm trying to do here.” Jim sighed, watching the two-meter-long figure from inside the stall, dressed in a giant newspaper-shaped banner walking down the street.
Mondays were always busy at Goodpoint. People needed to wake up properly after the weekend; for that, takeaway coffee was good, which is constantly a hot commodity at Goodpoint these mornings. The inhabitants of the Big Apple were always curious about what happened during the weekend, so not only coffee, but also, daily newspapers sold a lot.
“So, Jimbo, what´s up?” Asked a man in the coat, whom, as he spoke, steam came out of his mouth.
“What do I get if I complain, Nick?” Jim answered with a grin. “The daily menu?” He added, reaching for an empty cup that he was about to fill with coffee.
“Of course, Jim. You know me better than my own wife.” The smiling customer added with a smirk.
Jim had everything rehearsed and perfectly harmonized. With one hand, he placed the empty cup under the coffee machine and with the other one, he picked the Wall Street Journal which belonged to the customer's “daily menu.”
“Then am I entitled to half of your property?” Jim asked him, giggling, with a newspaper and a cup full of hot and scented coffee. At that moment, the customer started laughing, grabbed his purchase and put the money into Jim's hand.
“You always know how to make my day, Jimbo.” The customer chuckled while leaving.
“See you tomorrow, Nick!” He yelled and noticed how the customer turned and lifted the coffee cup from a distance as the hint of consent.
That was one of Jim's qualities. He always knew how to manage with customers, and people really liked him. It was one of the main reasons why people preferred him and not the cafés that were at every corner in New York. Still, it wasn´t enough. The city which was constantly raising the cost of renting the sidewalks had Jim and his booth clinging to bankruptcy at an inexorable rate, even though he tried very hard. He worked hard. He wakes up at about five o'clock in the morning to open at six and be ready for the first workers walking around his stall. Without Roland, who would be in the booth since four in the morning when the goods were usually coming, especially in the form of daily newspapers, he would´ve had to close the booth. He often wondered how he could change the business model so he can have higher profits. He had no ideas. Bankruptcy would be a great personal loss to him. And that was not all. He would have to get employed.
Jim didn´t mind diligence. His dream, however, was to build a prosperous and successful business that he could sell one day. He was playing with the idea of developing his own franchise. This would, in essence, mean that he would sell licenses for his own know-how. To do this, Jim needed to build a successful business that he could copy and sell as a franchise. But as time went by, the years of youth entrepreneurial enthusiasm became a struggle for survival.
It's been 11 years since Jim opened the Goodpoint stall. Once he could afford to, he moved his stall to Manhattan from Brooklyn, where his booth had since been located. After the arrival of the first child 8 years ago, it seemed to Jim that everything was in the best order. With the second child, he thought he could handle it that year and manage to come through with his plan. That was five years ago. Today, at the threshold of the fourth decade of his life, he was becoming more and more aware that his train had already left. Against all circumstances, he did not give up. His main characteristic is undoubtedly endurance. But he has been slowly losing it too. The deteriorating conditions in his business changed his terms and conditions at home.
Taria wished to have more rooms for herself and the children. She wanted to get out of Brooklyn and move to a flat or a house that would give them more space than they had now. Jim could not blame her. They lived in a typical New York house, which was divided into two dwellings. For them, there was less than 60m2, which is really small for a four-member family. However, the problem was not just the small space. Reminders of unpaid bills have been in amount on the table as a common family´s rubbish in the bin. Jim's wife took half shifts in the clothing store owned by her friend, but this money wasn´t enough to cover all debts. That was the reason why Taria, a beautiful and young 29-year-old woman, became a busy, troubled and tired mother of two young children every evening. It was her who could no longer handle this situation and persuaded Jim to get employed and have a regular income. For Jim, the job meant a personal loss. For Taria, employment was a prospect for a better and, above all, more stable life.
“Please,” Roland said. “I'll rather go to work; you should do the same.”
“You aren´t home all day long! You leave early in the morning when the children are still sleeping and come late at night when they are already or just falling asleep!” Taria screamed at him through tearful eyes in such a weak moment. “Not even your own kids really know you! Do you realize that at all?” She asked, but didn't expect an answer.
“Tari, honey ... you know I'm trying. It's not that simple, but I´m doing it for us. I'm just not an employee.”
“But you probably aren´t a businessman either.” Taria interrupted him harshly as she was pulling out a cloth to wipe her tears away from her cheeks at that moment.
Jim stood silently, sadly looking at his weary wife. Then he lowered his eyes.
“You're probably right. Maybe I am beating a dead horse, but I do it for the sole purpose of providing us with a quality life. I can't do it. I just can't work for someone else.” Jim said, sadly but resolutely.
“Honey...” his upset wife slowly moved closer to him and grabbed his chin with one hand. “If you want to secure a better and quality life for us, get rid of the stall because that's why we are the way we are. And I really don't know how long I can bear this.” After finishing this sentence, she looked at him for a moment with a sad gaze. Then she lowered her eyes, caressed his cheek, turned and went to the bedroom and closed the door after her. Jim didn´t need more. He felt like someone just told him he was the most incompetent man in the world. This was definitely not the kind of motivation he expected. But he didn´t blame her either. This wasn´t the same Taria who he had been able to talk to on the green lawn in Central Park where they met, but he wasn´t the motivated young boy who dreamed of having a large apartment in Manhattan at the age of forty and a private summer residence in Miami either. That night, when that quarrel took place, he realized for the first time in their relationship that he might lose her. It was the moment when a man closes himself up and looks for where the mistake happened. If they had no children, it might've been different. Taria, however, was particularly worried about the family. She just wanted it to work, and especially to take care of the kids. Every woman at this point in a relationship wants a single thing from the man - security. And it's just that from that moment, Jim stopped giving them this security. Every man knows that when he stops giving the woman a feeling of security, it is just a matter of time for when the relationship fails. Jim did not want to believe that it could happen to them. And yet it was happening. It was like a trance.
All night, he was sitting on the couch, staring somewhere in the darkness; he tried to sort out his troubled life, at least in his mind. He woke up only from the sound of the truck was stopping from behind the windows. He looked at his watch, which reported half past three in the morning. He had about an hour to get up to the winter December morning. His entire 180-cm high body shivered with this idea. He decided not to sleep in the bedroom so he doesn’t wake Taria and his children, and he'd rather settle himself on the couch. He kept a smartphone next to him where he set his alarm clock at half past four, which was about an hour later. He tried to fall asleep quickly so he could handle the mass of people.
Roland was just picking up the Monday goods on 1st avenue.
“Hello, Jimbo! As usual!” An older man in a black coat and expensive leather gloves drew his attention. He was a respected customer who regularly, every Monday morning, came to the stall, bought coffee to go and a literary magazine called Literamis. As he was drinking his coffee, he was talking to Jim. When he finished it, he, accompanied by the magazine and the empty coffee cup, walked to a nearby building where he worked. He always took the empty cup with him, never threw it into the trash that Jim always had ready at the stall according to the regulations. He has been doing this for several years and this morning was no exception. This man was among Jim's first customers since he moved his stall to Manhattan. The man could be around 70 years, but he was a lively person.
“How is it going, Jimbo?” Asked the man whose eyes radiated a sincere interest and not just a question of courtesy.
“Can´t complain, sir.” Jim said with a trained tone, but it somehow revealed a bit.
“Son, I don´t want to play an old man, but after all those years in business, I can sense when someone is lying to me and when they are telling the truth.” Noted the man who leaned against one tall round table with a single elbow, holding a paper cup in the other hand and his eyebrows raised, gazing at Jim just like a beast. “Has the answer come yet?”
He asked directly, expecting sincere feedback from Jim who was standing in the spacious window of his stall.
Jim mentioned the letter in which he asked the city for a reduction in rent to the man briefly on the day the request was about to be sent. He didn´t notice that the man had registered it at that point, and he had not mentioned it in a few weeks.
After a long hesitation, Jim started speaking.
“It has.” He gave the man a sad tone.
“Oh,” the man said, motioning his head to indicate he understood. “That could be expected, son. The city just won´t let the rent decrease. They´d lose all the money. And what are you going to do now?”
“Honestly? I haven´t even thought about it yet, but I'm sure that my noose is tightening.” He sighed sadly. “It's worse at home. My wife wants me to find a stable job. She´s simply getting anxious about it.” Jim added as he had his elbow leaning on the counter and stroked his forehead with his palm.
“Maybe you should consider it, son.” The man in the black coat surreptitiously replied and continued. “On the other hand, perseverance is the biggest enemy of failure.”
Jim looked at the man, and the corners of his mouth bent in something that was suggesting a light understanding smile.
“You're right; it just seems to me that I'm struggling with endurance, and I think my wife has long given up the fight.”
“Are you still together?” He asked, expecting a quick reply.
“Well...we are,” Jim replied hesitantly and did not understand where the question was meant to lead.
“Do you live together?” The man went on with nonsensical questions.
“Of course,” Jim answered firmly.
“And her suitcases and your children's suitcases are not packed in the corridor ready for a quick departure?”
Jim's stomach began to hurt weirdly. Why is he asking me about such things?In a rather panicky voice, he answered to the man. “No, I hope not. At least in the morning, there were no suitcases. Do you think --”
But Jim did not finish the sentence, as the man immediately jumped into his speech. “So that means, son, your wife didn´t give up the fight. But you also have to look at it from her point of view. We each have our own perspective. She sees her enemy in this stall who keeps stealing the money from the family, the father of her children and her husband from her.” Reasonably said the man. “When you look at it, you will find out that it isn´t easy for her.”
“I know. It's clear to me, but it's a little more complicated,” Jim tried to explain. “I'm trying to build a business. I would like to build something like a franchise. Actually, I wanted...” he said in a sad voice. “Even before it started to fall on me a few years ago,” Jim interjected, not trusting his own ears. He found himself talking to a stranger about his current biggest problem which was destroying his marriage as well.
Why the hell am I telling him?But he felt the conversation was helping him. All that time, he was hiding it deep inside, and now he has been frank and very seriously dealing with this problem with a totally strange man who, at least looked like it, was deeply interested and seemed to support him.
At that moment, however, a beautiful woman with a hat on her head interrupted both men coming under the roof of the stall.
“Can I have the latest VOGUE?” The woman said with a strong request and didn´t look too friendly.
“Of course. One VOGUE for a beautiful lady in a hat with a free smile.” Jim answered, giving the customer a magazine with a literally smoothed smile. She giggled at the magazine and handed Jim the money with her second hand. She thanked him and left with a smile.
“How long have you been rehearsing, son?” The man finished the last residue of coffee that was already cold.
“Not as long as you could think. I like to give people joy; especially when they're kind of sad.” Jim explained.
“So, you know how to make others feel better, but not yourself?”
“Yes, I guess.” He mumbled.
The cold wind blew into the booth, and all the newspapers rustled. But they all stayed in their place. Thoughtful assistant Roland thought of everything, and pedantically secured them to release only when a customer would want to take them.
“Where were we actually?” The man asked curiously. “I know, you were saying you wanted to build a franchise business.”
It seemed that the man really listened, and his tone suggested that he was indeed interested.
“Well, yes. Just instead of building a franchise, I'm dealing with how to pay all the bills and not end up homeless. You know, life sometimes chooses a different way from what we really want. That's normal. I just wasn´t ready for that. One would want a lot of things at once. Sometimes, however, you have to give priority to what is right before what you want. So, here I stand and think about what I have to do. Should I do what I want, try to save it here and maybe lose my family? Or do I do what's right, leave the stall and save my marriage?” Said Jim slowly, lethargically, and was surprised himself by what he said and how easily he said it. He felt a special relaxation. He probably needed this: To tell someone else. Dissolve from himself what was suffocating him for so long. He even began to think that his openness was caused by the fact that he spoke to a complete stranger who would not use this information against him or even try to harm him.
“The two things are not always at odds,” said the man.
“That's true,” Jim said. “In this case, however, they are in conflict. And in a perfect one.”
“What am I supposed to do, according to you?” Jim intrigued, waiting for the answer.
“You know, the most beautiful thing about life is that we have to respond to the most fundamental questions by ourselves.” Said mysteriously the man who was holding an empty cup in his hand. But it was obvious that Jim´s words got to him, and he was also dumbfounded by them. His look was revealing that. “Another great thing about life is that the answers always come to us at the right moment.” The man said thoughtfully.
The wind once again blew into the stall, and the same scene as one of a few minutes ago was repeated. The newspapers crackled loudly. The wind was strong, and both men noticed how small pieces of paper, which apparently blew out from the waste bin, were flying along the street. They danced through the streets from which the voices of people who were tirelessly trying to drown the noises of the cars in the traffic were heard.
“I think the right moment has already passed for me and the right answer missed me.” Jim leaned back with both hands on the counter and looked like a lecturer in a lecture who wanted to present his thoughts.
“Sometimes we do what is right, sometimes what we want, but in most cases, we do what we have to do. We respond to what we think will be the best at the moment.” The man who was standing with an empty cup staring at Jim, spoke secretly.
“Where are you getting at?” Jim asked impatiently, taking an instinctively biased approach to the man as if he was expecting a clearer explanation. “I have the impression that most people don´t even decide what is right, and not what they want. They will decide only when they are forced to do so by the situation itself. And then we can´t do anything at all, just take the one option, the one we will evaluate as the best one at the moment.” The man explained.
“What do you mean?”
“So, 90% of people leave the situation unsolved for so long that the situation itself will force them to make the decision. What I have in mind, for example, is that if your wife packs herself and the children's suitcases and puts them in front of the door, you would immediately decide to get rid of the stall just to save your marriage. And if you get your rent reduced, you´d probably start to work even harder. Most people are afraid to decide for themselves because they fight responsibility and so, let the situation extend to such an extreme that their situation itself forces them to make a decision.” Explained the man with a tone of a university professor. “They will decide at the last minute, and in the end, they will do what they have to do. Not what's right or what they want, but what they have to do,” he concluded.
“It´s true. When one does what they have to do, they can say to others that they had no choice. They don´t take into account that before the situation had exploded, they did have the opportunity to decide and act much sooner and more according to themselves.” Jim added, as if he was making sure he understood it, and went on. “Finally, even if we decide to force ourselves, our decision may be right or wrong.” He added.
“Well, son, we are just getting rid of responsibility this way.” Agreed the man whose visit was probably the longest one to Goodpoint ever because he usually just took coffee, his newspaper, dropped a few sentences with Jim and left with an empty cup.
Their conversation was interrupted again by a customer who seemed to be very upset. “Can I have a Wall Street Journal?” The man looked eager, almost mad. He was holding a suitcase in his hand and had an elegant, unbuttoned coat under which a black jacket was seen. When he was paying the money to Jim, Jim could see the gold watch under his sleeve. He didn´t know much about watches, but he was sure that the watch cost more than his one-year turnaround at Goodpoint. This watch could solve most of my problems, he thought.
“Here you go, sir.” He gave the paper to the man who laid his suitcase on the floor. He quickly opened the newspaper and started to browse the pages swiftly. Jim glanced at the man with an empty cup, with whom he had a longer discussion than usual. The man grinned at the corner of his mouth as if he was expecting what would happen next. Indeed, it really looked like a hundred million dollars was hidden in the newspaper. Jim thought for a moment he was staring at a scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where one boy opened one chocolate after another in anticipation of finding a golden ticket to the factory. The man with a mad expression seemed to find what he was looking for because he closed his eyes, raised his head up, took a deep breath and began to madly destroy and tear the just-bought newspaper. While doing so, he began to swear and tossed them all into the trash. He picked up his suitcase and glanced at Jim and the other customer who were looking at him blankly. He stared at them for a moment, as if at that moment, he realized he had spanned his emotions. He noticed that the two men in the booth who had witnessed his outing didn´t see a noble and polite businessman but a five-year-old angry boy to whom his parents wouldn´t buy a wanted toy. Dumbfounded, he adjusted the front of his coat with one hand, glanced at the two men again and made a gesture with his head. “Wow,” the mad customer said as a courtesy greeting. And he left.
Both Jim and his conversational friend started laughing aloud.
“Apparently, the stock has taken an unexpected direction,” Jim replied.
“Definitely,” the man agreed, laughing, and continued. “That brings me to another thing, son. Everyone looks at what is right and what is wrong differently. Everyone has a unique perspective. With more than seven billion people in the world now, there are seven billion different perspectives. That man may have invested in shares that have fallen, and for this reason, he could lose a lot of money from which we might conclude that at this moment he thinks that the investment in the shares was the wrong decision --.” He said wisely, but Jim quickly interrupted him.
“And right now, someone else is just enjoying those same shares because maybe they made a lot of money out of it.” He finished the sentence for him.
“Exactly, son. Perspective is therefore a very insidious thing. I personally think that our feelings are the best way to make the right decisions. Our heart, not sense. If your wisdom advises do it and your heart says don´t do it, I wouldn´t do it. I would trust my heart.” The man expressed his opinion lightly while rolling the magazine Literamis with both hands which he then hid in the inner pocket of his coat. “I've been following this my whole life, and I think I can only declare it to be a success apart from a few little failures. And I´ll be seventy soon, so I have a right to a lifetime rating.” The man said with an honest laugh.
“And you know what? You are right.” Jim agreed, straightening his clenched hands.
The man closed the last button of his coat and put on black gloves. The empty coffee cup was still on the table that he was leaning on the whole time. I may witness him leaving the cup here for the first time, Jim thought, looking at the cup.
“By the way, you don´t look seventy at all,” Jim added with courtesy. “I´m not yet.” The man replied with a great laugh.
“Thank you for the chat, sir. You don´t even know how you helped me.” He thanked the man honestly.
“Oh, come on. Don´t let anything happen to you, especially try to do everything with optimism and exaggeration.” The man who was apparently on his leave said. “I'm running. I don´t even want to hear of retiring.”
“You´ve been coming here for years, and you know, I don´t even know your name.” He asked curiously. The man reached out to Jim, gesturing to him to do the same. As if he wanted to tell Jim a secret.
“It's a secret.” He gave him a mysterious whisper.
He let the secret announcement in for about five seconds while pulling away from Jim, but still looking at him. “I'm called Parker. Parker Schneider.” He suddenly let a laugh out, suggesting that the previous scene was just a joke. He offered one hand to Jim.
“I'm delighted, Mr. Schneider.” They shook their hands politely. “Jim Scott.”
“Just Parker,” he corrected Jim. “My pleasure.”
At that moment, the man thanked Jim for his coffee and greeted him gladly. As he was turning, he picked up the empty cup of coffee and started to walk into the whirlpool of the city. Why did he take it again? Wondered Jim. I´ll ask him. He isn´t far yet; I can still see him.
“Sir!” He cried out to the man who had walked from his booth and who was quickly lost in the streak of the people who strolled the streets.
The man was gone, Jim couldn´t see him anymore. But he was sure he would have plenty of opportunities to ask him about the cup.
The debate resonated in his mind for a few more hours. He was thinking about it all day, but was unable to decide what his sense was saying and what his heart was thinking. He hoped he would soon learn. He was ready to take the final decision and act accordingly. There were a few plans on how to increase turnover. If they aren´t successful, he would have no choice and will have to shut the stall down.
Of course, if Taria can last until then. If Taria really packed up and put the suitcases in the hall, he would probably give up the stall in one second. But he had one solution that he was going to show to Roland. With that solution, he wanted to get the time to test a few tricks to increase turnover, which would help to solve the situation, at least a little.
Hours were relentlessly killing minutes and minutes inexorably destroying seconds. It was almost five o'clock in the afternoon when Jim gestured at the lively walking billboard, Roland, to come to the stall. Roland turned around, and visible above the crowd, he started walking back to Jim. People were barely able to avoid him. But in spite of that, he kept shouting his familiar everyday humorous slogan: “Be informed! Goodpoint is supplied!” People, and especially children, enjoyed it. Roland in the garment was the mascot of the 1st avenue. Undoubtedly, thanks to his merits, in the stall were new customers who, despite comfortable restaurants, rather bought coffee and newspapers at Goodpoint. After all, Roland considered it a mission.
“My job is actually saving people their money.” He liked to joke with Jim. Coffee at Goodpoint was much cheaper than in any other coffee shop nearby. And it obviously fulfilled its purpose because people actually started to buy takeaway coffee with their newspaper more and more. That's why Jim decided to prepare a fun menu in Goodpoint that contained takeaway coffee and selected types of newspapers and magazines. It was funny because people weren´t used to such a way of selling coffee and newspapers. He actually humorously imitated the menu in fast food restaurants where you can see the current menu on descriptive boards above the staff. At Goodpoint, instead of a Big Mac menu consisting of a big burger, fries, and Coca-Cola, you can see “Black Coffee + New York Times” or “Espresso + Wall Street Journal” on the blackboard. And there was one free smile in the exclusive menu. People quite enjoyed this menu and started to use it. Goodpoint has always been a place for laughter and satire. People have always found a smiling seller, and usually a few meters away, there was a lively billboard running freely and shouting around. Rental prices, however, so steeply rose that any attempt to increase turnover was inadequate. And that's why Jim decided for the last shot he wanted to save his marriage with, and hand in hand, save Goodpoint from a bust.
“I want my life back,” said Jim as Roland approached him. He glared at him, and he uncomprehendingly lifted his eyebrows and gently turned his head.
“I just don´t like living from day to day and waiting for something to fuck up, whether here or at home.” He began to explain. “We're in New York, in the city of opportunities. And I'm just here, stumbling like a half zombie and watching the cafes around stealing my customers.” Jim snarled.
“I understand, but what do you want to do? Do you have a plan?” Roland asked.
“Yes, my friend,” Jim said victoriously. “And either it works out, or we can both find a new job.” Jim declared, standing behind the sales counter and reminded Roland a little of a general speaking to thousands of soldiers in front of him.
“What exactly do we want to do?”
Jim glanced somewhere behind Roland and sniffed quietly. “I want to burn all the ships we could escape on. Just like Cezar once did.”
“Oh ... well ... if you think so.” He looked behind himself where Jim was looking at but saw nothing there, so he turned back to him.
Jim turned around, snapping an empty cup and filling him with a heavy black coffee. He handed it to Roland. He was happy about it and began to sip the hot coffee.
“Now we need a lot of coffee, buddy. Well, listen to me.” Jim said, beginning to explain the plan.
People were walking past the booth and stopped there to buy a “menu” or a daily newspaper. All customers stopped for a short moment and disappeared immediately. The cold wind was hitting their cheeks, and Jim's stall was perceived as a checkpoint for the supply of caffeine and a bit of warmth from the hot cup. Jim didn´t mind though, he greeted the customers, praised their request, and returned to Roland and their plan to rescue his marriage, and also the stall.
“I have a few ideas that can raise our revenue. But I don´t have just that one goal, and that´s why I need you, buddy,” Jim said. “I also need to save my marriage. Taria can´t handle this pressure anymore, and I need your help.” Roland nodded, agreeing, and groping at the hot coffee he held with both hands to keep his fingers warm. He waited for what Jim had figured out.
“So, I don´t know about you, but I need to manage these two things,” Jim said.
“Look, you probably know that I don´t take this as a job but rather as a place where I like to go to and where I do what I like. You know when you need help I'm here. I don´t even have to tell you that. So, tell me what's going on, so we can do it.”
“Okay, but I warn you that it may not be the case. It's just a plan that I have set up recently. I've been thinking over it all night, and I think there´s no more time to think. It can really happen that it won´t work out and I will have to close this whole thing. I want you to know about it immediately, and so you can find a new job. I know that losing a job in one day is a bit too much and that's why I'm telling you about it now. If you want, you can look for a new job, and I won't be angry with you at all.” Said Jim, and expressed his appreciation and trust Roland with that.
“Don´t be stupid, Jimbo. Let's solve what you need to and leave my life to me.” Roland said, appreciatively appraising Jim's sincerity.
“I was thinking that you might be here instead of me on certain days when I would spend time with my family. I mean, you´re gonna be here, behind the counter the whole day. Or at least most of the day. I would guess on Wednesdays and Thursdays when there are fewer customers which will help you to manage it all. I would always come at the end of the day; I would take the revenue and help you with closing.” Jim explained, and continued. “Taria and the kids would be delighted if I were at home for these days and spend time with them. The problem, however, is that you would have the same money as if you were doing a billboard here for three to four hours.” Jim added with a slightly sadder tone.
“Great!” Roland exclaimed joyously.
“In these days, I will work on my marriage, and moreover, I won´t lose the money from the stall.” Awesome Roland, he thought. “The first lens - marriage rescue - we have solved.” Jim pictured in the air, making a tick with his hand. “The second thing is a new business model. I thought we could create a new service that would work as a subscription. I mean, we're going to provide some companies with magazines, daily newspapers, or even coffee in a certain volume, on certain days and at a certain monthly fee.” Roland spun his ears because he was very interested in it. He has long known that convenience is one of the main things customers want in every business nowadays.
“For example, we can address the hospital or doctors to whom we will regularly supply daily newspapers or magazines. Of course, at a lower fee than you would get by subscribing to a given publisher. In addition, they could determine that they want us to deliver a medical magazine for their own needs to the office and they could order New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or Newsday for their waiting room. Plus, we can always provide them with some books or coffee. Do you understand, Roland? We are opposite to one of the best and greatest hospitals in New York, so we have a huge advantage over others. We will only use this service for businesses that are close to us, let´s say within a few hundred meters. And if it goes well, we could also employ some couriers. But it's music of the future, of course. What do you think?” Jim finished and waited for Roland's reaction.
He was still processing the information given to him, so he looked Jim directly into his eyes and smirked his eyes gently as if he was still thinking. He gripped his coffee which perfectly fulfilled the function of a heater in this winter weather. He finally reacted.
“I think, buddy…” he began slowly but then his passion was enthusiastic. “That's a great idea! Why didn´t you think of it sooner? That's how we could have reached to the business around a long time ago and offered it to them already.”
“It occurred to me just last night, and to tell you the truth, I have not fully thought it through properly. Maybe we get rejected by the businesses which will think it's ridiculous. Who knows what's going to happen?” Jim said, but Roland's enthusiasm did not suffer any harm. “But please, Jimbo. Every business wants to have easy work. When something is easier and more comfortable, people are willing to pay for it too.” Roland said excitedly, leaving the cup on the table and gesturing with both hands. “Why do you think I never cook at home and rather have my food delivered?”
“Because you're lazy and you can´t cook?” He answered with laughter.
“That's right!” Roland said in an excited tone. “Do you think the doctor wants to look at what newspapers or magazines patients can read in the waiting room? Coffee may be unnecessary; they have their own, but they must be getting daily press and magazines supplied, and why not from Goodpoint? Jimbo, you're a genius.” Jumped around, still excited Roland. Jim didn´t seem so enthusiastic, though. But that was maybe caused by being overwhelmed with the enthusiastic reaction of his long-time friend.
“For example, we can give them free delivery. It will be a service only for companies in the neighbourhood we are close to after all!” Roland snapped one idea after another, and Jim couldn´t be more surprised by what excitement he had caused. Deep in his soul, he was afraid that Roland would not agree with his ideas and start looking for a new job, but he became the exact opposite.
“It is true. We'll think about it. What if each of us tried to think of a few suggestions tonight and tomorrow we will discuss them?”
“Sure boss. It will be fun!” Roland laughed, delighted to have more fun. Roland was simply like that. He thought of everything as it was just fun. It sounds great, Jim thought, but his fear had faded him. If this doesn´t work, he's done. It was up to Jim now to think, rework, and try to figure out the logistics. Certainly, he will have to invest a few dollars, but if it were to bring success and profit, he would win the jackpot. He would save his marriage and even save Goodpoint which would eventually expand. The question, however, was whether or not his plan was going to be a waste of time.
In a spacious and luxuriously furnished office, only a faint and constant hum of air conditioning was heard, which was heating the room to pleasant 22 degrees. The office was decorated modernly and stylishly. A huge mahogany wood desk dominated the room. It was obvious that it wasn´t there only as a decoration. There were a lot of papers, notebooks, and objects misconstrued next to a large monitor on the desk. The only door entering the office was placed opposite the table, about 10 meters away. There was a leather couch for three people on the right side of the door, over which a stylish blanket was laid. There was a beautiful coffee table in front of it that was surrounded by only two seats in the same style as the couch. An entire wall of the office was made of wooden shelves made of the same wood as the massive desk. The wall behind the couch was dominated by a giant 3 x 4 meter image that greatly illustrated that there was a man in this office who wanted to work. Furniture and the whole facility, however, suggested that it was obviously not a young person with a delightful taste, but an older, financially-secure person who has this place as his sanctuary. The office itself already showed that it was a high-powered person. All the furnishings, like furniture and artworks, made it clear what kind of person he is. The furniture was Art Deco style. Perfectly dressed and polished. It seemed to yell: I am an older, peaceful, high-standing top 10% man who loves books, jazz, soul and quality whiskey! The art in the whole room, however, shouted something completely different: I am full of vitality, energy, and expectation. I have not yet reached my full potential! I´m not ageing; I´m getting younger! These two opposites would look strange elsewhere. Here, in this office, they formed perfect consistency. At first glance, however, the contrast was omnipresent. Equipment and art. Pleasant indoor temperature and frosty winter outdoors. Office room and outdoor buzz. Immediately when entering the office, a pleasant smell of polished furniture and leather struck in one´s nose. The cleaner had been ordered to take care of this room every day with unusual consistency. The smell of the whole room suggested that, and, in exceptional cases, the smell was improved by various aromatic candles. One corner of the office was dominated by a huge interior rock which was turned on almost continuously. It kept the pleasant humidity in the office. When one sat down in a leather chair and closed their eyes, the tireless twinkle of the flowing water on the rock gave them the feeling of being by a beautiful and clean mountain lake. Ideal place for meditation or short relaxation. The office was very well lit by natural light, which in New York was rare, rather than a daily fact. On this December day, however, New York City had gloomy winter weather, and so the lights in the office were soft. Outside of the window, a cold December wind wandered tirelessly, trying to get inside the office. Unsuccessfully. There were fixed and rough safety glasses in the way that had slipped from the floor to the ceiling. Everyone who entered the office sparked a beautiful view of the 1st avenue from the 20th floor of the Eastbridge Landing Building on the corner of 377 East and 33 street.
Beyond the silent office door, only the silent and hollow finger tapping of the keyboard was heard. Beyond another door were then the sounds heard of the crowd of people screaming, lifting the phones, gesticulating and walking from one to another. It was the sound of a functioning body that could be called a successful and functioning company. The large hall was made of several dozens of boxes in which workers of different rankings were placed. Some of them had headphones on their ears and tirelessly clicked on a computer mouse as if they had handled a special demon who had them in its power. Next, they looked at the monitor, and their fingers danced on the keyboard as if they were confused by the computer with a piano. Others walked up and down the hall, holding various papers, notebooks, and office boards in their hands. Obviously, everyone had their own task that they tried to do as well as they could. At the entrance to the hall, the huge logo of the company that reared on the wall directly opposite the entrance dazed any visitor.
The logo served as a reminder to the visitor what important land they just found themselves and reminded every employee of the size, impact, and mission of the company in which they worked. Company logos and various corporate promotional items were at every turn. Cups with the company logo. Pens, blocks, notebooks, t-shirts, umbrellas ... People just knew where they were. The air was adjusted by air conditioning which tried to get the smell of coffee that was probably on every table all day away. The whole hall was actually a huge open space with windows on the sides. One could say that this was a typical open office. It was not so typical, though. STORIE CONTINUE…