One afternoon, when Sal’s assistant was out for a doctor’s appointment, he called me into his office. It is safe to say that at this time, I carried the title, “Assistant Creative Director,” which, as any young aspiring creative will note, is something one may or may not ever accomplish in their lifelong tenure. With my overconfident title and an uncomfortable pair of Sal’s latest shoes (which we were forced to wear), I opened the door. Without a moment’s hesitation, he started with, “that little Indian place over there [pointing somewhere in the direction of NE], I want my regular chicken dish and Herod (the company president) will have the chef’s salad. Herod was not in the room. I raised an eyebrow. He ushered me out with the deadline of forty five minutes.
For starters, there are an infinite amount of Indian food places anywhere to the northeast of us in Manhattan. I think it is the island of Manhattan that is said to be home to more Chinese restaurants than the capital of China itself. Somehow I navigated through to find the one he referenced–someone else had seen the logo on a bag in the trash at some point or another. Then there was the whole ‘chef salad’ thing. I’m not a fan of Indian food, but I felt pretty confident that they did not, in fact, offer a ‘chef salad.’ Chopped ham and eggs on lettuce? I think not. They also thought not. I perplexed them so much with my order I had to speak with two thick accents in a period of about two minutes. What I returned with was a measly lukewarm salad in a foil tin with a few cucumbers on top…and ginger sauce.
Just in time for my ‘deadline,’ I knocked on Sal’s door. I brought the bag of food, complete with cutlery and napkins from the adjacent kitchen, and placed it on his desk. I was just about to ask if he and high-maintenance-salad Herod would like me to grab them some drinks from the kitchen when I noticed an elevated level of tension. Sal’s face was turning a flustered color of mauve and his eyes were staring holes into the takeout bag. As long as it took for you to read from the sentence about me placing the bag down until this very word here was theoretically longer than the time it took for him to slam his hands down on the table and shout a slur of things in my direction- in front of company of course. “Is this how you serve me?!?!” he asked/yelled. Being the anticipatory problem solver, I calmly raised my hands and asked what he would like for me to do. He went on rambling to the guest about how I haven’t been trained and how naive I was. When he finally remembered the insulted party was still before him, he told me to take the food out, ask his assistant for instructions and “serve me RIGHT!” Literally, verbatim, donezo.
I walked out. His assistant was back and waiting. She had heard the mess and helped me appropriately portion the food onto…plastic plates (duh, the ‘right’ way to serve takeout food). For the record, they were black plastic plates. When I brought it back in myself, he just stared. I sat his plate down in front of his face. He squinted his eyes and angrily suggested that I served him on the ‘wrong color plate.’ “Where are the green plates?” he asked. For the record, the green plastic plates were ‘out.’ I explained this to him and he resolved to still eat on the black plate. Miraculous.