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Fine Dining on the Subway

1 Jun

June 1, 2018

Ah, the subway during rush hour. The crowds, the pushing and shoving, the smells, the body odor, the homeless, the rats, the unidentifiable flecks floating in the air. Doesn’t it make you hungry?

Not me.

I really don’t know how people do it but I see it every day. Just yesterday a woman was sitting in a seat, crowded on all sides, with a series of plastic bags open on her lap and the dirty floor between her feet and from them she was taking the makings of tortillas, which she made and ate while the odor of the homeless guy across from her wafted through the air like mustard gas in World War One. 

But what is even more inconceivable to me, yet I see it more than a few times each week, is the bizarre phenomenon of people taking home pizza on the subway. 

Picture it. Rush hour. Crowds. People pressed together. And someone forces their way on the train carrying a large box that has to be held straight out and flat, taking up the room of two other people. It pokes the already crowded commuters in their backs and gets shoved and wrestled. This happens. I see it a lot. A guy gets on at Union Square in Manhattan and takes a pizza all the way home, 45 minutes, to Bay Parkway. Of course by the time he gets it home it’ll be cold, probably squashed, and it’ll have been traveling through the subway where the air has more rat particles per square inch than an actual rat. Appetizing! And worse, the part of Brooklyn he traveled to with the pizza has more pizzerias than you can shake stick at. There are a dozen within walking distance of my house, no lie. Why not wait until you get home and order a pizza? Fresh and hot! And untainted by the body odor of underground denizens.

So even assuming the pizza from Union Square is the greatest pizza in the known world, after being shaken and crushed on the train, and after getting cold in an hour of travel, and after being exposed to the foul air underground, how good is that pizza going to taste?

Is it worth it?

 

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The Agent of Fate

22 Mar

March 22, 2018

My real estate agent called me the other day. “Hey! I got an apartment that’s perfect for you. It’s right in your price range!” The last apartment he said was right in my price range was $500 per month above my price range so I was not excited by this call.

I’ve seen a lot of apartments lately. They ranged from awful (the mailboxes were all broken into and some were hanging open while others were shut with padlocks) to amazing (enclosed terrace, recessed lighting) yet somehow they were all “perfect” and “right in my price range.”

But I agreed to see this one. Hey, one really does have to be prefect and right in my price range, right?

This is a stock photo. The real thing was worse.

Agent: “Can you come tomorrow? Meet me at the office at noon.”
Me: “Ok, tomorrow noon.”
Agent: “You’ll be there, right? At noon?”
Me: “I’ll be there. At your office at noon.”
Agent: “Call me if you can’t make it.”
Me: “Don’t worry, I’ll be there.”
Agent: “Noon.” [Hangs up]

This all stems from the fact that a couple of weeks ago I made an appointment with him to see a place, then something came up and I called to reschedule. He said he was unable to reschedule, so I moved some stuff around and went to the appointment at the original, agreed upon time. I made exactly two phone calls to the realtor about two hours apart, two days before the time we were scheduled to see the place. Not exactly a big deal, yet now every time he wants to show me a place he treats me like I’m completely unreliable.

So the next day came. I live a short ten minute walk from the real estate office but I left early so as not to give any illusion that I may be no-showing and got there ten minutes early. The office was closed and locked. More upsetting, there was a drunk sitting in the entrance to the pharmacy next door. This used to be a really nice, upper-middle class area. Not so much anymore.

I called the agent. “Hey, I’m here, at your office. There’s no one here. Are you coming?”
Agent: “I’m five minutes away. You’re at the office?”
Me: [Exasperated] “Yes, I am standing right in front of your office watching a drunk trying to figure out why his bottle is empty in the doorway next door.”
Agent: “Maybe he drank it all. See you in five minutes. At the office.” [Hangs up]

He really did arrive in five minutes, almost to the second. The drunk still had not figured out where his liquor went and was checking his pockets to see if they were wet.

The agent pulled up, a little too fast, came to a short stop in front of a fire hydrant and got out of the car. “I have to make a call. Watch my car!” He ran into the office. I stood next to his car, asking myself if a policeman tried to give it a ticket, what did he expect me to do? But it didn’t matter since he was out in a minute and we both got inside.

Agent: “I can show you the house, but I can’t take you back to the office.”

This was perfectly fine with me. The apartment we were seeing was closer to my house than the office so I had already planned to walk home from the viewing.

Agent: “I just spoke to my wife. She is very sick. I have to take her to the doctor.”
Me: “Oh.”

The agent was very apologetic. We had to make it fast, but he got me all the way out here (he said) and he wanted me to see the place. Then a call came in and he put it on speaker. It was the homeowner.

Homeowner: “So sorry to do this but I have to cancel. I’m stuck in Jersey and I can’t get out there today.”  That’s exactly what the agent thought I was going to do. But OK, we understand. “Come tomorrow. I’ll show it to you tomorrow.”

Then another call came in, this time the agent didn’t put it on speaker. And when he was done:

Agent: “My wife is even sicker. I have to take her to the emergency room.”
Me: “Ok, let me out here, I’ll walk home.” We had only gone a single block.
Agent: “No, I’ll take you home.”

I was very worried that this would turn out like the Seinfeld episode where George ends up with Mr. Peterson’s mother on her death bed so I said no, no, I’ll get out right here, thank you very much.

Agent: “I got you all the way out here so I’ll take you home.” He was strangely insistent about taking me home while his wife was very sick and he had to rush her to the emergency room. But as luck would have it, things finally went my way. The street we were driving down was completely closed ahead for construction and the detour took us away from my house. There was a red light at the corner and when the car stopped I opened the door, said thanks for the ride, and got out. Quickly.

Agent: [Through the window] “You are a good guy! Maybe we’ll see the house tomorrow!”

The next day he didn’t call. I wonder if his wife is OK.

 

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