My daughter’s best friend had her cell phone stolen last night in Chinatown. The day before we’re about to leave this wonderful city, Madisyn’s 2-week-old Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G was lifted from her back pocket as we were winding our way through the hawkers with their “Louise Vuitton’s” splayed across the Canal Street sidewalk on bed sheets. She realized it minutes after leaving a clothes shop she’d been in, and that’s all it took. Whoosh. Gone. Tears ensued. Her dad was going to be sooooooooo mad. All her photo’s of the day-a full day too, filled with great shots- up on the Highline for a picnic breakfast on the green, the gloriously sunny day spent in Central Park watching the crazy skaters and dancers, the zoo, with all those photo opps of kids and animals, then onto the Plaza to show Madisyn the Eloise Store and where Becca had her high tea 5th birthday party in the Palm Court. All gone. A cell phone is so much more than a cell phone these days.

We thought we’d cap off our last night in Chinatown. And then this. Amidst tears I tried to save the day by yanking them into an old favorite of mine, from my childhood days, 456 Shanghai (at 69 Mott for anyone looking for consistently excellent Chinese) where I knew the amazing soup dumplings (the best!) would perk her up. They did, and we had fun and it was de-lish, but at the end of the day, Chinatown didn’t stand a chance. Even after a Ferrara Gelato on Mulberry Street afterwards, only a few steps from Mott! Only a few steps!

Talk about branding. Madisyn says she now “hates” Chinatown. Noooooooo! I wanted to yell. Chinatown is the best! Chinatown is the thrumping, hot center of New York culture, well one of them. It lives and breathes authenticity and diversity. It has the best tea boutiques! Where else can you go home with little green turtles, intended for soup, for pets? Where else can you get an $8 Louise Vuitron clutch?

It depressed the hell out of me that Madi was definitely not going to share all my wonderful memories of Chinatown-it would be tainted in her mind for life- and that it was out of my control. How sad. Becca and I tried in vain to explain that it could have just as easily have happened in the park, or on the subway, or in the zoo, or quite frankly anywhere else. But no, walking through the quieter, more high end streets of Soho on our way home Madi was convinced-knew 100%-that that would never have happened on Spring Street, or Mercer…because, well, look around.

At the end of the day 14 year old Madisyn is going to believe what she’s going to believe, and yeah, she knows she messed up by putting it in her back pocket with it’s crazy pink cover screaming “take me!”, but still….Chinatown? In her mind from here on out? BAD. Branded.

The timing was funny; lately I’ve been reading so much about what “brand” really means, and I came back to the apartment thinking how easy is it to have a customer have just 1 bad experience, write 1 bad review, and suddenly your whole brand is instantaneously formed-and it’s tainted. That’s all it takes…1 bad review. Our brand is most definitely our reputation…it’s me, it’s you, and it’s whatever folks are saying about us at the time. So we’d better be damn good, have nothing but good reviews for our work and make that our #1 priority. I get it now.

The good news: My Becca went to sleep admitting that all my “nagging” about taking the phone out of the back pocket may have made sense after all, instead of just being “annoying”. Aaaaaah, the little things.

Madisyn isn’t buying “the good, the bad, and the ugly” just yet. But I’m going to keep working on her.



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