Well, this blog got off to a heavy start, didn’t it? Shhhhh, it’s okay. I can be lighthearted, too.

Apart from the Transplant Story Series, I’ll pop in here from time to time to say–other things. I don’t know what. How about we find out?

Here’s a thing that happened: Last Tuesday, March 8, I attended a couple of job interviews, one for a job in Human Resources I didn’t want, and one for a copywriting gig, which I’d gladly take. I didn’t get either job, but I did get something else.

My first interview was down at the World Financial Center, which is somehow different from the World Trade Center, but I’m not clear as to how. (The road that divides them?) The interview was early and uninspiring, and I had a lot of time to kill. I wandered through the Twin Towers memorial in a delightful tease of summer weather. After watching tourists trying to understand maps and regularly craning my neck upward as though I might miss the Freedom Tower’s hugeness if I didn’t look at it just once more, I slipped through the crowds towards the east, where I’d find the subway I needed to get uptown for my next interview.

A man with a camera stopped me. He was young, around my age, and he had a very simple, portable set up, which suggested either expertise or a complete lack of understanding. (It was the first.) He said he loved my outfit and he wanted to take a picture of me.

Shockingly, this is not the first time this has happened to me. In most places in New York, I’m considered average looking and decently dressed. (As opposed to, say, Tecumseh, Nebraska, where I’d rival a Roman god. A very skinny Roman god.) I’m not the sort who expects to be stopped for a photo, yet whenever I am, I act as though it makes perfect sense and why did it take so long for this to happen again?

The outfit that the photographer, Michael Tapp, liked was only a few details different from all the other suits worn in FiDi on a weekday morning. In fact, it was the same suit you see in my bio photo on the About page. But in case you’re reading this in some sort of space-age computer Braille, or you don’t really care to know About Me (totally feel you), I wore a tailored black two-piece, shiny loafers, and a vivid blue tie. The only unusual details included a black vest with a watch chain, a Stetson fedora, and smoked sunglasses. And just like that, I went from cookie-cutter businessman to Italian mobster.

I didn’t know how practiced of a photographer Michael was, so took this whole thing with a grain of salt. He’d already seen the picture he wanted in his head; now he just had to find a way, amidst hundreds of people and this one random guy on his way to a job interview, to get the shot. Honestly, at the time, I thought it would be a horrible picture.

“Give me your meanest look,” he said. I gave him a blank expression. “Yeah!” he said, enthusiastically. “Can you cross your arms? And just keep looking mean.”

Oh, you mean just keep looking like MYSELF? Sure, no problem.

I’ve posed for photos a lot in heavy traffic areas, and I’m always amused by the people who think anyone in a costume having pictures taken might be someone famous. They stop and look at you, and you feel all these eyes on you out of the corner of your own. Some people hate that feeling, but for me, there’s a strange rush with it, a sense of being more than I am.

It took us some time and some patience–me moving around, both of us waiting for people to pass–to get the shot that he wanted. When we were done, Michael offered to send it to me if I gave him my e-mail, and just because I’m the curios type, I did. It was the right decision.

Michael clearly has a good eye for a shot. I never would have pictured what he did, let alone endeavor to take it with so many people around. But a good photographer not only has an eye for a picture, he or she can also make people magically disappear. (This statement hasn’t been validated, but trust me.) And within a few minutes, this is the shot that Michael captured:

Mafia Josh

Hard to believe there were hundreds of people around, right? Harder to believe that I’ve never killed a man, right? Or at least extorted money. Or jaywalked. Something.

The rest of Michael’s work is even more extraordinary. You can find some of it on his personal site and more on his flickr page. I strongly encourage you to visit. A talented photographer should never be taken for granted!

To Michael, thanks for making another day in the life of a New Yorker something entertaining enough to warrant a blog post. I will never experience a job interview quite the same way again.