New York stint

New York, New York.

Absolut New York commercial sign

During the midst of the IT hype companies offered a recruitment bonus, if one could find other skilled (or non-skilled, that didn’t really matter…) developers that wanted to start working in your company. So did the company I worked for back then too, and their bonus would be some kind of trip. We ended up going to NYC in February 2000.

I hadn’t really had a crush on new York before this, but it was a great trip, and we did and saw many things during those days. After this, I fell in love in the city. Given the business climate back then, pretty much everything was possible, so I decided I wanted to get a job in NYC.

I got in touch with Razorfish who got very interested. We discussed back and forth and I got an offer that was, in my eyes, unbelievably good. I still haven’t earned as much before tax in Sweden, than I did in NYC after tax. Needless to say, life was gooooood.
There were going to be some problems getting me visa, though, but after a lot of hassle I flew over June 2nd 2000 (as a normal tourist visit, one was allowed to stay in the country three months without a visa) and the plan was to sort those things out while I was there, on location.

Still terribly sun-burned from a kick-off trip with Razorfish Sweden to Ukraine, of all places, I took a cab to the city and checked in into my Holiday Inn in ChinaTown. Sleeping the sleep of the jet-lagged, I woke up around 6 AM the following Saturday, and got myself to Central Park, watching some kids play baseball while having a bottle of water and an ice-cream.

Razorfish were supposed to get me a place to stay, but, how should I put it… It wasn’t the firsth thing on their list, so to say. After my initial stay in Holiday Inn I stayed a week in the company apartment in Battery Park City with two other guys, then back to Holiday Inn again.

Finally, after presenting myself in a company meeting in the main office, a girl came up to me afterwards. Her name was Lisa and she was originally from Sweden, but they had moved to the US when she was four years old (although her Swedish was still almost impeccable) and her father was a professor at Stanford University. She told me that her room-mate had just moved out and that she had a spare room, if I was interested. We talked for a while and it turned out that she was going away for business for a week, but that I could live in the apartment during that time, and if things worked out, we could prolong my stay.

I went by a couple of days before she was leaving and picked up the key. Sitting around in my Holiday Inn room, I eagerly packed my things (again) and waited for moving day. Her apartment was located in Greenwich Village in West 12th St, which was a golden location. It was on the top floor (5th), but it was actually 8 stairs and with at least 30° Celsius and about 100% humidity, it took some effort to climb them.
From the living room the view overlooked WTC, and I liked those towers even more than the Empire State Building and the Chrysler building. When my brother came to visit, we went up on the roof of one of the towers, and standing up there really felt like being on top of the world!

I moved there and the week went by and I was as happy and content as can be, when I realized that she would be coming home the next day. I scavenged the apartment for cleaning tools, but to my disappointment I only found a handheld vacuum cleaner, aptly named Dirt Devil.

I crawled around the apartment for what seemed like forever, and cleaned every inch and corner that could be found. I mean, I just had to be allowed to stay in that apartment. Luckily for me, she was really easy-going and I got to stay there for the remaining time of my visit.
Lisa’s boyfriend was a professor at MIT, working with AI. The funny thing is, one day when he was visiting her, he saw my JavaScript – The Definitive Guide book lying around. He turned to me, and said: “Wow, I’d really like to learn JavaScript one day”. And the thing is, it didn’t sound as he was mocking me, it sounded like he actually meant it! πŸ™‚
Once during my stay, I found a picture of her father and the Swedish King, during a trip they did to Africa.

Not for bragging purposes, but just to describe what will happen during a stay in NYC:

One day when I was sitting in the office, Michael Stipe of REM just walked in. As it turns out, he was a friend of one of the Razorfish founders and had just decided to stop by…
Other things were:

and so on…
Amazing things in an amazing city.

I also really enjoyed the American Museum of Natural History wich has such fantastic displays that I was speechless. One of my favorite things of theirs are the different fossils and remnants of dinosaurs and other unthinkable creatures.
A thing that was a really inconceivable and unbelievable event was going to the The New York Public Library, where they had the actual notes and sketches from Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler and Tyco Brahe among others. I mean, their actual work! I was baffled.

Being in NYC, going to Broadway shows is also mandatory. I went and saw The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon and Jekyll & Hyde, where the former vocalist of Skid Row, Sebastian Bach, played the leading the character (after I went home to Sweden, we was replaced with, lo and behold, David Hasselhof!).

So many other things happened too, but there will be another time and place to tell about them.

In the end, things didn’t work out with getting a work permit and visa, so I had to go home to Sweden again. But I had three amazing months!

PS. I’ll write more on Monday, take care of yourselves and have a nice weekend! DS.
PS2. Markus, aka wobbler, is unfortunately leaving the company I work for today. Sad, but life goes on. Good luck, Markus! DS.

8 Comments

  • markus says:

    I thank you, Robert, for you being you and not someone else. I'm sure we'll bump into each other in a near future! Take care, and watch out for evil german schnitzels downstairs…

  • Erik says:

    Poor investors and shareholders πŸ˜‰ The thought that webpages would turn into gold during thoose days!! πŸ™‚ But it was fun being a javascript developer =)

    Have a nice weekend!!

  • Great story Robert. I wasn't really into it during those high days of the DotCom world. It's nice reading about it and I can imagine how excited you must have been πŸ™‚

    I am actually somewhat jealous. I am not sure how developed Sweden is in our industry (so to say), but I'll put it gently when I say there are better places to look into than The Netherlands. Besides looking at it from a economical point of view, I have grown a bit tired of seeing the usual Europe — can't wait to get out and see the world. I was hoping to get an internship abroad, but due a miscommunication from my university I discovered that this internship is already upcoming September! Grr..

  • Robert says:

    Markus,

    Thanks! I'm sure we'll see each other again.

    Erik,

    Yes, it really was the golden days!

    A nice weekend to you too!

    Jeroen,

    Thank you!

    Lots of fun and weird things happened during that time!

    Regarding Sweden, I have to say that it (in my experience) is pretty well-developed, and I like working here.

    But if you get the opportunity, I really recommend getting abroad. Maybe apply to Google? πŸ™‚

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