The Local Deli: Where a Receptionist Can Feel Human
One of my favorite joys of traveling is meeting new people and learning where to find the local “Mom and Pop” spot. Since New York City is filled with over 8.5 million people, finding this type of place is usually much harder to come by. But after a few months of taking my receptionist job, I was excited to discover a homey deli right around the corner from my office.
After just one visit, I was greeted by name and invited to sit down and relax while they prepared my lunch order. I’m not going to pretend that being a young female didn’t have anything to do with the welcoming treatment from the staff — consisting of a cliche loud Italian and a crew of Mexicans. Having long, dark hair is pretty much a golden ticket to getting permanent attention.
Heck, I’ll admit it, there is something charming about walking into a place and being recognized on a daily basis. This is especially true when you spend 8 hours a day at work where your boss barely even gives eye contact to acknowledge your existence.
From the moment I walk in, they want an update on auditions and shows. One worker even said he showed my website to his family and were entertained (I promise I didn’t convince them I was famous). But this is the 30 minutes of my day where I am anything but a receptionist, and it keeps me sane.
For a while, I would go there almost every day. My coworker used to joke, “Where’d you go for lunch? Oh, the deli? You needed an ego-boost?” Yes, sadly.
Nowadays, I pack my own lunch to save some dough. However, when the infamous office candy jar can’t satisfy my sugar fix, I’ll head to the deli for an oh-so-delicious cookie. If it’s my kind of day it will have been just freshly baked and FREE (depends how my hair looks that day).
On my cookie hunt a few weeks ago, I walked into the deli to learn that my favorite worker had to been deported back to Mexico. This was sad news, and I promise that I was more fixated on that than my cooking craving.
I learned from my old pal, now in Mexico, that the trick is to request a new cookie being baked in the back. The unfamiliar cashier looked at me with confusion when I asked for this, but said he would kindly warm up the cookie that was already out.
Cut to a minute later, and the entire deli is filled with smoke and the smell of burnt chocolate.
I was convinced the place was about to blow up over a chocolate chip cookie, but we all came out unscathed and laughing. The cookie now looked as if it had a huge stomach ulcer.
I guess it was my kind of day, because I did get the cookie for free, and it was warm! It smelled like a funeral home, so I gave it to my funny coworker. After all, everyone needs an ego-boost.