Sometimes opportunities just present themselves; sometimes we have to go and make them.

Back in New York in July 1989, I had made an opportunity for myself simply by opening the Yellow Pages.

However, not everything was as rosy as the impression I gave.

During the conversation with the Cheshire Cheese Restaurant manager, several questions asked and some comments made gave me a certain amount of trepidation and no little fear.

I have already mentioned that New York was a menacing place, and as a naïve, 21-year-old Geordie in the Big Apple, I felt very uneasy.

More than this, I feared for my safety.

So, I made a quick choice after a quick internal chat.

6 o’clock came and went and I didn’t go for the job.

I really was concerned for my safety, but assured myself that given this opportunity had been so easy to come by, others surely couldn’t be much more difficult.

The next day I continued where I left off, calling restaurants. No bites.

So, I went out and pounded the pavement. The questions were always the same.

Do you have a Social Security number? Yes.
Do you have any experience? No.
What are the main ingredients of a Caesar salad? No idea.
What things contribute to the ambience of a successful restaurant? Er…

It was pretty obvious I was not a good candidate to be a waiter in a restaurant and couldn’t even get a job as a busboy.

After a while, I became disillusioned and sought solace in Carty’s Bar on Third Avenue.

I then took a short walk to Washington Square Park where I bought a well-thumbed copy of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and this is what I did: I took the train from Grand Central Station up to New Haven, Connecticut, found my way to Route 95 and stuck out my thumb. I was hitchhiking.

On reflection, this seems a far riskier endeavour than going to the Cheshire Cheese Restaurant to see how things would turn out.

What I learned from this was to investigate situations thoroughly and to rely on data and references, rather than uninformed opinion and emotion.

And also, to seize the day.


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