Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Else I've Been Up To

On Monday afternoon I had a real treat--a ride through the heart of Manhattan in a bright red Mustang convertible, with the top down! It sounds crazy, but I was transporting goods to a watch show, and the security guard was driving me in his own car, which was obviously his baby. (It's a whole other story, but this guy went to Julliard, culinary school, was a bronze-medal cyclist in the Olympics and a retired NYPD officer who killed three men in the line of duty back in the day, which surprised me because I've never met a sweeter old man. On the way down he told me about how he and his eleven-year-old son go out and birdwatch together.) The autumn weather was gorgeous and it was fun to have such an amazing view of the city--one I've seldom seen, since I'm used to walking or taking the subway everywhere. Cruising down 6th Avenue in the seat of a convertible is nice. It was a pleasant and relaxing way to start a maddeningly busy week.

The past few days have been a whirlwind of watch wheeling and dealing as I've been taking part per my job in a major watch show for dealers only. It's basically just a big room of a small convention center filled or two days with watch experts and all their friends buying and selling from and to each other. Just like kids playing Go Fish or Old Maid, these grown men walk around trading watches for other watches, looking for the watches they need, haggling and boasting, showing off their wares and their expertise, buying what they like and selling whatever they can so they can have money to buy something else and start the cycle all over again.

The Metropolitan Pavilion sounds so fancy, like it should house a state of the art exhibit at the World's Fair. However, for the watch show it's just a room filled with rickety booths made of patched together piping, spotlights, cheap old showcases on fold-out tables with velcroed-on rayon skirting, and if you have a safe (that looks like a relic of WWI) in your booth, there is no room at all to walk around. In these humble circumstances, the most magnificent watch deals go down. I spent my two days at the show, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., counting stacks of hundred dollar bills, keeping an eye on watches worth more than four times my yearly income, meeting buyers and sellers from exotic locations, and trying to keep track of the Machiavellian politics of the place and the labyrinthian trails that my boss would go down in an effort to buy or sell and make even the smallest of profit. Are you starting to see why my job is alternately stressful and fascinating at the same time?

Next door to the Metropolitan Pavilion was a line down the rainy street for a VIP Yves St. Laurent sale of some sort but, the few times when I was sent back to the gallery to pick up a certain watch box or other needed item, I hardly noticed the fashionistas who stood in stark contrast to the scraggly watch dealers smoking their cigarettes under the eaves of the building. Chelsea was cold, gray, and drizzly, but I was too caught up in the flash of diamond-dialed Rolexes and shiny gold Pateks to notice.

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