Like many newlyweds, I feel as though I have very few close friends. The wonderful intimacy of sharing every day’s sorrows and joys with the same person, while simultaneously trying to get dinner on the table and not stab him with whatever sharp object might be at hand, tends to crowd a lot of things out. (Plus, to be fair, I am not that easy to live with, so I spend some time trying to dodge the sharp objects that are near at hand to him).
Anyway, I have only three or four people with whom I am really close, so it is rare that I have to run to someone’s side within minutes. Yet last week it happened: my great friend Duane got a new job downtown, and sent a “help, I don’t know anybody here” e-mail.
For those of you who don’t live in New York, let me draw you a map: Downtown is where the city started, and in the 17th century it was a bustling port with a couple of busy taverns. The city grew north to Wall Street, and then further uptown still. Today, downtown from the tip of the island to Wall Street is known as the Financial District, and it still has a couple of busy taverns, but they’re pretty much serving the same food that they were four centuries ago. Note that by the same, I mean identical — lunch tastes like Peter Stuyvesant’s leftovers.
I know the area better than many people do because I had an office job there in the ’80s, and I show apartments down there now. I knew that Duane would appreciate it if I popped down to see him, and doubly appreciate it if I showed him where a couple of “hidden gem” restaurants were.
So last Thursday I went downtown to preview new construction for clients, and right before my appointments I hauled Duane off to Rosario’s: the secret “red sauce” place where all the traders eat. You know what I mean, a red-checked-tablecloth kind of place. We had linguini and meatballs for seven bucks each, and then I raced off to look at my condos.
I thought I had done a good deed until I got an e-mail message from Duane today: “you were right, I’m eating at Rosario’s two or three times a week, there’s nothing else down here.” Sigh. I am not gonna get this dude married off if he’s eating linguini three times a week; now I have to show him where the gym is.
The story does remind me, though, of the importance of being introduced to a neighborhood. The broker who sold me this apartment wasn’t always around when I wanted her, but she did steer me to the good dry cleaner, and I’ve always been grateful for that. Similarly, I have relocated a lot of clients, and I try to swing by and make sure they’re OK once they’re settled, but I think there’s a lot more I can do on the “hey, here’s a great little shop in your neighborhood” front.
I run a Q&A Web site that I try to make useful for my clients, but there’s probably too much about mortgages and not enough lists of the “here are my top 10 favorite places in neighborhood X” variety. But I plan to adjust that ratio, hopefully soon. For one thing, it’ll make shopping part of my job, which sounds excellent; for another, it will provide my clients — and potential clients — with something they can’t find every day: a friendly neighbor with good sense.