Before moving to New York, I had never been called “boss” by anyone. Then again, before moving to New York, I never had a full-time job, so nobody had any reason to call me “boss.” But at places where I’m not the “boss” – like bodegas, delis, and streetcarts – I find myself being called the “boss” all the time.
Every time I get lunch from the falafel cart downstairs from my office, I am called “boss”:
“How’s it going, boss?”
“What would you like, boss?”
“Here you go, boss.”
“Have a good one, boss.”
Why am I the boss? You run the cart, you’re the boss of yourself. If anything, you boss me around. You tell me when to order, how much to pay, and I pay you. Much like a real boss, you make meaningless awkward small-talk with me about my weekend. But I never boss you around. Quite often, you put hot sauce on my platter when I only want white sauce. You call the shots, not me.
In fact, since I’ve never been in a hiring situation, I’ve never known anyone who could possibly call me “boss.” You can’t mistake me for any boss, really. I don’t bear a resemblance to John Gotti. I’m not a giant green lizard hovering on a bridge over lava, like Bowser. I’ve never said, “yeeah, if you could go ahead and get me a gyro platter, that would be grreat.” And I don’t believe I ever ran Tammany Hall in the 1860s.
I’ve been told I look sort of like Tony Danza, so maybe that could be it. But I’m no “boss.” Maybe next time I’ll greet the Falafel Cart Guy by saying, “Yo! Angela!”