Customer Service

Airbnb: Bad For New York, Great For Me

I guess like most things in this new disrupted world of ours, I think Airbnb is bad for New York, but when family is in town and needs a place to stay, that’s exactly where I send them. On her last visit, my mom stayed in a place one block from us for $60/night.

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A Non-Grouchy Oscar Update!

LADY ON THE PHONE: Is this Ester?

ME: Yes? Subtext: Unless you have anything stressful to tell me.

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My Day Interviewing For The Service Economy Startup From Hell

I interviewed at Handybook in July 2013. My temp job had just ended and I was desperate for a steady job, and was relieved and excited when I got an email from Handy scheduling me for a phone interview.

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Checking the Transactions

Last night, I went through my credit card transactions (as I like to do on weekly basis), and noticed that on Oct. 17, I was charged $8 by Delta in Atlanta, Georgia. That was this last Friday, and I was here, in New York, eating a fried chicken sandwich in Brooklyn at the time; the charge for the sandwich appeared next to it.

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This Is Terrible, But: The Pain of Tipping People Richer Than Me

Should I really feel differently about tipping people who have more money than I do? Does that make me a terrible person?

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So You Want to Quit Your Job and Open a Bar

This Slate article offers wisdom for the many men who supposedly dream of quitting their mundane, workaday jobs and starting their own bars:

What would he tell a friend who was considering getting into the business? “I would tell them, ‘I hope you like being in the basement a lot, because more often than not, that’s where I find myself,’ ” Struble says. “I’m the guy schlepping kegs and unclogging toilets.”

Oh? “So many people I know have a glorified idea of Oh, you’re standing behind the bar and there are so many girls. That’s the fantasy. It’s not the reality,” he says. “If I knew the occupation I would have now during college, I would have gone to refrigeration school or plumbing. I would not have gotten a master’s in education.”

Plenty of us sometimes wish we’d picked another major, but what else do bar owners mess up? “Make sure you are able to get a long-term lease,” Struble says. “You can be the most successful place in the world, but if your landlord decides in three years that he’s going to double your rent, are you going to be able to cover it? It’s not sexy, but I’ve seen people flame out.” Little about owning a bar, it seems, is very sexy. This should be obvious, since you’re running a highly regulated gathering place for drunk people.

Um, seriously. I have never in my entire life met someone with this fantasy. Starting an artisanal belt-making operation using high-quality, locally sourced leather, sure. Starting a hip coffee shop that’s also part laundromat and maybe part used book store, absolutely. But a bar? That never seemed romantic, just tedious and terrifying in equal measure. Have I just been hanging out with the wrong crowds / not enough men? What’s your small business dream?

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Link Roundup: Boss Regrets Niceness; LinkedIn Rankings; Good Giving

+ Uh-oh. I hope Mike doesn’t read this one. “Why I Regret Being a Nice Boss,” by a lady who was not a monster to her employees, and whose employees took advantage of her until she adapted accordingly.

Not all businesses require that level of micromanagement. But establishing which rules are non-negotiable, and making sure that everyone understands them with crystalline clarity, is a matter of fairness. It’s the thing I wish I could go back and do over—not because it would have saved my business, but because everyone, myself included, would have been so much happier. I allowed my coffee shop to become characterized by permissiveness. Some took advantage of this permissiveness by making up excuses for being late, or by trying to do as little work as possible. Those who didn’t take advantage became resentful of the other employees, and of me. It brought out the worst in everyone.

+ Let’s all go back in time and choose our colleges based on LinkedIn’s ideas of which ones will get us desirable jobs!

+ It’s “Pink”-tober, which means it’s time to feel guilty about forgetting to donate to breast cancer charities. If you want to give, though, give wisely. Here are some alternatives to Komen where your money might actually do some good.

+ Two more favorite rich people, because I can’t believe I forgot: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Lord Peter Wimsey. Posh dudes who fall for brainy, less well-off women are the best.

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My Summer As a Housekeeper

The summer I was 18, I worked at an amusement park hotel as a housekeeper. The system worked something like this: every morning, we picked up our clipboards from the front desk with our list of rooms for the day, color-coded by what kind of service they needed. Pink was for occupied rooms that just needed a little spiffing, or “makes,” and green for just-vacated rooms that had to be cleaned for guests the following day, or “turnovers”.

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Coffee vs Diet Coke vs a Pure, Uncaffeinated Life

How much do you spend on coffee a day? Is it worth it? Slate (via Inc) says hell no:

that euphoric short-term state that you enter after drinking coffee is what nonhabitual caffeine consumers are experiencing all of the time. The difference is that for coffee drinkers, the feeling doesn’t last. “Coming off caffeine reduces your cognitive performance and has a negative impact on your mood. The only way to get back to normal is to drink caffeine, and when you do drink it, you feel like it’s taking you to new heights,” Bradberry explained. “In reality, the caffeine is just taking your performance back to normal for a short period.”

It’s bad for your sleep cycles, your productivity, and your wallet. Sorry, lovers of Joe.

I can be smug about this since I’ve never drunk coffee. It’s strong and bitter and I do not get it at all, unless you muffle it in so many layers of milk and sugar that it doesn’t taste anything like coffee, at which point it’s 5,000 calories and $500 and turns your irises into pinwheels.

On the other hand, I get my daily caffeine fix from Diet Coke, which doesn’t even have the defense of being a naturally occurring, organic upper. It’s water and chemicals and fizz and God help me, I love it, even though it is probably wreaking havoc on my gut flora. Who am I to judge? Let he who is without beverage sin cast the first stone.

illo by Charrow, possibly the most serious coffee person I know. 

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The Weirdest Ways to Make a Fortune

Here’s a creative and unexpected way to make some money:

Domainers, also known as domain name speculators, buy domain names that they think might be desirable to someone else in the future, often generic words or phrases that they can then flip to business for a profit. Brown asked the guy what happened when people emailed those dormant addresses he owned. The guy said, people don’t do that. Brown borrowed a few, 12 in all from two different guys, and it turned out that people, as well as bots, did email those addresses, to the tune of some 200,000 emails a day, 8% from real humans. All of a sudden, he had a business.

“I started sending bounces back, and I put a little tracker inside of it,” Brown told me. “It turns out that 60% of the time, people opened the bounce I sent. That makes it the most read email in the world–that’s more frequent than my mom reads the email I send to her. I said to myself, ‘I think I’ll put a little back-to-school gift-card ad in the body of this bounce.’ And I let it run. A month-and-a-half later, I’m checking the mail and I get a check from the advertiser for $20,000.”

Best line in the article: “A trained Shakespearean actor, Brown credits his experience in the theater with having provided him a mindset for framing startups.”

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Quitting in a Blaze of Glory, NYC Waitress Edition

A waitress’s open letter to the oh-so-seductive customer who manhandled her has gone viral. I should excerpt it but the whole thing is so fantastic, I’m reprinting it here in full:

Dear Brian, You came into the restaurant where I work and ordered a Stoli on the rocks. When I asked you and your companion if you’d be eating, or needing anything else from me, you put your hand – ever so gently – ON MY ASS and asked if you could take me “to go”. When I immediately stepped away and said “Sorry, what?” you probably gathered that I was and am not receptive of such advances from customers. We were in a family-friendly restaurant, around 6:30pm, and I was wearing a loose-fitting, long sleeve shirt, jeans, and no makeup…so I’m not sure where the confusion arose as to what kind of service you were being provided. You left soon after, leaving a signed credit card slip and a two dollar tip (see picture included!). Your name is Brian Lederman. I found you, instantly, via a quick Google search online. I looked at your face on Linked In, the World’s Largest Professional Network. You work at Swiss Performance Management and Truehand AG, in Investment Management. Of course you do. 

I work as a bartender, and have for more than five years now. I graduated NYU with honors, and have at some point held down every conceivable part time type job including but not limited to food service, administration, and even temp work at firms such as yours. So far, bartending allows me the most flexibility to pursue my artistic career, while comfortably covering my basic living expenses, including my outrageously high student loan payments. I have a good job that I’m grateful for. The environment is low key, I have incredibly supportive coworkers and managers, and – in general – the clientele is nice. But I still hate being a bartender. 

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