Monday, August 20, 2007

Weirdest Business Lunch Ever

I show up at a store to meet the owner, about whom I'm writing a story for the corporate newsletter. He is old and wild looking, with crazy hair and visible smudges on his glasses. He's dressed fantastically in pin stripes, a blue shirt, and a cool black sweater. But he's carrying a Macy's bag instead of a briefcase.

"Hey, Betty! Sweetheart, meet a multimillionaire. 3 million dollars. All of it liquid." He puts his arm around me and guides me toward a man in a straw hat with bad breath and a piece of hay dangling from his lips. The owner, who I shall call Bert, turns to me and asks whether I would like some fried fish for lunch.

"No thank you," I say, explaining that I don't like to eat and interview. He disregards me and heaps fried cod onto a tray, covers it with fried shrimp and then squirts a half gallon of tartar sauce onto everything. We walk by the soup stand and he insists I eat clam chowder.

"Go get me three Pepsis." I look up, stunned. He is staggering around under the massive tray, now containing two salads and some fruit. I get the drinks and meet him in line. "I'm going upstairs. Just sign my credit card slip for me." I scribble Bert's name on the sheet and follow him.

We chat about fish and travel. He's just been abroad. I tell him a story about the Iditarod. I meet several of his brothers, sit back while two of them have a fight, and try not to laugh. Bert struggles to open his plastic salad container, mangles it with his hands and eventually gives up. He smashes it open with his fist and tomatoes fly all over the place. He drops tartar sauce on his lap and looks down, disgruntled. I see him look around and then dip his napkin in one of the Pepsis and use that to mop up his spill.

We talk about the products I'm writing about for awhile. Very interesting stuff. Tales of economic ruin and rebuilding, globalization, capitalism. Bert struggles to open the fruit salad and I take it from him and gently lift where it says "Lift here." Bert is amazed. Another brother comes and sits with us. He says, "Bert, when did you decide to cut your hair? I'm so glad you did because you looked like a hobo."

Bert pulls open a trade magazine and asks me if the Irish owner of a fish plant looks like his brother. The brother opens a map of Ireland to a picture of a lemur and asks me if it looks like Bert. I just laugh until Bert asks me, of all his brothers, who is the most eccentric.

"Well, Bert, I have to say you." He laughs and walks up to a fish display. He grabs a bag of the product we discussed and hands it to me, walking out the door laughing still.

Later, as I'm pulling out of the parking lot, the drive belt starts screeching terribly in the Nissan. Bert is walking across the street. He shoves his hands over his ears in pain and looks around for the source. When he sees me, he points and shakes his head as I squeal off into the rain.


Jane said...

You meet such interesting people. What fun!

Valtastic said...

My weirdest business lunch was in NJ at an Italian restaurent and the waiter spilled an entire tray of food on my coworker that had just come out of the kitchen and was really hot. The server and manager went over to the table whose meal it was and apoligize profusely and ignored my coworker whose wrist was blistering from hot sauces and came over 30 mins later to apoligize and offered to pay his dry cleaniner... seriously.. he ended up with a small burn and didn't say anything and had to pay for his meal even though they burned him...

PeaceLoveMath said...

ha ha ha! My DAD commented on your blog!! He doesn't even comment on MY blog! Not that I ever post anything...maybe tonight, since most of my other wedding work is done. Altho crocheting Greer's flower girl basket isn't going real well...grr.

Anyway, this interview story was so hilarious. What were his brothers doing there anyway??