Len Berk (LB) and Joshua Gubitz (JG)
LB: I never loved it, but accounting provided a decent living, and it was very important for me to take care of my children. So after I retired I looked for something to do next. I got a telephone call from a friend of mine who said that she saw an advertisement in the New York Times that a large gourmet food store was looking for a lox slicer, and I thought I could do that. I had been a customer of that store for many years and I used to buy chunks of salmon and take it home and slice them myself because I’ve always enjoyed slicing salmon. So I applied for the job. I sent the owner an email listing ten credentials, uh, I’ve been one of your best customers; I’m reliable; I’ve always been a fish person.
JG: You actually listed these as credentials?
LB: Yeah, I didn’t really have any lox slicing credentials, but I felt very comfortable with the salmon. And he called me immediately. ”What kind of a CPA wants to slice lox?” And I’ve been slicing ever since. When I started one of the things that I loved was my ability to deal with the most difficult customers. Customer would say, ”I don’t like that slice.” I would say, ”Oh, I’ll be happy to take that slice off, and not only that I’ll give you a free slice.”
JG: And what makes you want to be nice to those people?
LB: Well I no longer want to be nice to them.
JG: Ah. [Laughter]
LB: This is when I started. Now I have a hard time controlling myself. When I’m slicing, I’m slicing. Very often I get lost in the lox. Somebody will say, ”Do you hear what I’m saying?” And I would say, ”Yes I do, but I’m very involved in slicing your salmon now.” I would say fish in general is in my blood, and now that I’m there for a while and I feel my oats. I want my slices to have more style, more character—
LB: More panache.
LB: But I’m 85 years old, and the other day my wife came to me and she said, ”Have you ever thought about how you want to spend the rest of your life?” And I said, ”Yeah, I want to spend the rest of my life doing exactly what I’m doing.”
JG: Why mess with a good thing?
LB: Yeah. I’m working toward the perfect slice.