He was desperate because he had lost his “high powered” advertising position at the J. Walter Thompson agency in New York. Which brings us to the scathing indictment: Gill, with the grating babe-in-the-woods persona he adopts in this book, would have us believe that top advertising executives like him have no idea that there are black people in the world and that some of them run small businesses; that every weekday thousands of people gather at places like Grand Central Terminal for a ritual known as rush hour; that an overwhelming majority of lives are lived in the service of train schedules and bill collectors. If the rest of Madison Avenue royalty is as clueless about the real world as Gill makes himself seem in this book, off with their heads.
Gill was a creative director (whatever that is) at the agency when, 25 years into his career, he was given the boot in what he portrays as a youth movement at the company. So far, so good; he gets a sympathy vote. But he celebrated his unemployment by impregnating a woman not his wife. Not so good; sympathy vote retracted. What’s really galling, though, is that he tries to wring new-father pathos out of that situation: “He opened his mouth and out came the beautiful sounds ‘Da da.’ Two simple, heartbreaking syllables. Thinking back to how I had missed such magical moments with my other children” — see, he worked such long hours at the advertising job that his four children by his wife never saw him — “caused a physical pain in my chest.” Sorry, bub; no sale. The sensitive-dad ethos has been with us for decades now. The only way you could have missed the news that children are more important than work the first time around is if you chose to.
Anyway, with that setup, Gill wanders into a Starbucks “hiring event” and meets Crystal, who gives him a job in her store at 93rd and Broadway in Manhattan. Crystal is black