Thursday, June 17, 2010

New York City: two wonderful meals, a “Kanye West” moment, and a stolen wallet

I attended back-to-back workshops in Manhattan this week on using social media in business. Both conferences were very well done and offered lots of ideas and case studies on how corporations can use Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to raise awareness of their brand(s) and create solid, two-way communication platforms with advocates, customers, and potential “ambassadors”.
Aside from learning some new tricks of the trade, my trip to New York also included two wonderful meals, a “Kanye West” moment, and a stolen wallet. Read on:
I never visit Manhattan without dining at Becco, owned by Lidia Bastianich from the PBS cooking show “Lidia’s Italy”. Taking full advantage of the delicious homemade breadsticks, garlicky white bean dip, and herbed olives, I had to be careful not to stuff myself. The portions at Becco are generous and entrees come with a delicious Caesar salad. And for just $9.99 extra, you get unlimited portions of the three homemade pastas of the day. So in addition to my entrée of tender chicken breast with lemon and olives, I feasted on fusilli bolognese, buttery mushroom ravioli, and spaghetti with fresh tomato and basil. Yes, I ate and enjoyed every bite.
Guess I was in the mood for Italian food, as the next night found me at Cola’s, a small trattoria in Chelsea. Seated inside, up front next to the big open windows overlooking the busy 8th Avenue street scene, I started with a wonderful cherry tomato and fresh mozzarella salad, subtly flavored with fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil. This was followed by a delicious plate of tender pork loin sautéed with sage and wild mushrooms. Check this place out!
One of the sessions at the social media conference was temporarily taken over by a PETA demonstrator. The panel featured a social media expert from McDonald’s, and soon after the session began, a woman strolled to the front of the room and climbed up on stage. Everyone assumed she was doing an AV check, and the speaker stopped talking and stepped away from the lectern. The woman jumped in front of the microphone and started a tirade against the supposedly inhumane treatment of chickens by McDonald’s. For a moment, everyone froze. The panel moderator then stood up and pushed the microphone away and the conference organizer ran up front, grabbed the woman by the arm, and escorted her – still jabbering - through the exit door near the stage. The McDonald’s spokesperson said the same thing happened to her at a conference last fall. “I told my colleagues that I got Kanye’d by PETA,” she said. A funny side note: at the end of the session, the moderator apologized to the crowd, saying she had never seen anything like that before. “But I think I handled it very well,” she said proudly. I felt the need to direct her to the "Congratulations! I Did A Great Job!" section at the local Hallmark store.
Today’s conference ended early enough that I could get to the local gym for a run before catching my train back to Boston. I changed into my gym clothes and threw my backpack into locker #165. After a half-hour on the treadmill, I went back to the locker room to shower quickly. Coming out of the shower, I realized I didn’t have my key. It wasn’t in the shower stall or on the floor, and as I stood weighing my options, I noticed that my lock was now on locker #167. I pulled open #165 and there was my stuff, minus the wallet that had been in my pants pocket. My heart sank and I quickly searched the locker and my backpack to make sure I hadn’t put my wallet in a different location. But it was gone. My guess is that someone saw me drop the key, quickly used it to grab my wallet, and then threw the lock back on the (wrong) locker.
I got dressed and went to find the club manager. Chris could not have been more apologetic or helpful, bringing me into his office to start a report, asking if I wanted to call the police, and instructing one of his cleaning staff to check all of the garbage cans in the club. He was in the midst of dialing the local police precinct when his staffer came around the corner with my wallet in his hand. “I found this in the wastebasket right outside the men’s locker room,” he said. My cash, of course, was gone, but the rest of the contents were there. I thanked Chris profusely and headed off to Penn Station, with a quick detour to an ATM and a return visit to the club to reward the cleaning person with $20. My next purchase? A combination lock for traveling – no more keys for me to drop.


  1. That's too bad Mike. But the important thing is that your wallet was stolen AFTER your Italian dinners. It would have been a tragedy to miss all that wonderful food!! I have fusilli bolognese envy.

  2. Sounds like a great trip. I feel for Italian tonight...but I might stick to Greek which I have been craving.

    At gyms I am always naive always trusting that nothing can go wrong.....yikes!

  3. really glad you got your wallet back, don't they have cameras anywhere outside the locker room?

    I want breadsticks...(sigh):)

  4. Years ago, I had a similar experience in a locker room, except the woman who took my wallet did it while I was less than 10 feet away with my back to the locker using the sink and mirror. When I realized by wallet was gone, she was one of the women who offered to help me search the area. Minutes later,my wallet was found in a garbage. Hours later, the woman was caught with my credit card.

  5. Peg: it's creepy to know that it was most likely someone i saw right there the locker room who took full advantage of the dropped key. I'm very thankful that the cash was the only thing they grabbed...and that i've not had to replace my driver's license, credit cards, etc. Wonder what i would have done if i had caught the guy in the act?



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