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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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P.I. Work Isn’t All Glamour

20 Nov

November 20, 2017

As my fictional detective Hollywood Russell would be the first to tell you, being an investigator is not as glamorous or dramatic as the movies make it out to be. There is a lot of drudge work and a lot of striking out and getting no results. But like any other job, there are silly, funny things that happen when you least expect it. Take this story, which actually happened to me last week.

My partner and I were in Queens checking out a witness. We were interviewing a hotel manager who was called by the police to provide the video from the hotel security cameras. There was an accidental (it seems) death and it may have been recorded. For the insurance company, we needed a statement. It was provided and we wrapped it up. Cut and dry.

My partner wanted to grab a snack. He’s been on the job for over two decades and it seems that one perk of longevity on this job is knowing every place to eat in the city. So we went to a small diner he knew on Roosevelt Ave and 111th street. I may be a rookie at this game but when it comes to eating out, my instincts have him beat.

The first thing I noticed, aside from the fact that it was dark and dingy, was that the Department of Health rating was “Grade Pending.” Now while I would not normally go into a place without an A rating that wasn’t a deal-breaker for my partner. Hey, it wasn’t shut down, right? That must mean no one has died from their food. (Recently.)

I’m not saying this is the place we went to but yeah, this is the place we went to. Notice that they USED TO HAVE an A rating.

So I wasn’t going to order any food and I figured the best way to stay out of the hospital was to just order a can of soda. It arrived and with it was a glass and a straw. No ice in the glass, just a plastic glass. So what was the point? I picked it up and I didn’t need to hold it up to the light to see that it was dirty. OK, I’m going to drink this straight out of the can. And I’m not going to use the straw either. The waitress did that thing where your straw has already been unwrapped and only the top inch is still on. Why do places do that? Is it classy? I don’t know but this place clearly did not care about class. Class to me is giving a clean glass. And since the straw was unwrapped and touching the dirty plastic that was no longer an option. I wiped the top of the can and drank it that way. But this was simple compared to my partner’s order.

ME: Just a can of Coke.
PARTNER: I’ll have a cup of tea with lemon and a toasted bagel with butter.
WAITRESS: OK, that’s a can of Coca-Cola and a toasted bagel and butter.
PARTNER: Don’t forget my drink.
WAITRESS: Do you want a can of Coca-Cola too?
PARTNER: I asked for a tea with lemon.
WAITRESS: No Coca-Cola?

A couple of minutes later the waitress came back and told him they had no lemon and no regular tea, just green tea or ginger. He took green. That came not in a dirty tea cup but in a paper takeout container so he was probably safe as long as nothing was floating on top.

Right after the tea came she brought over his bagel with butter. It had a big hunk of sausage on it. And not like a breakfast sausage or patty, it looked like a half of a bratwurst stuck between the slices. He looked at me and I looked at him. I had no sympathy. I never would walked into this place to begin with.

My partner called over the waitress (“Hey! Hey!”) and told her he didn’t order any meat on his sandwich. This confused her.

WAITRESS: You don’t want?
PARTNER: Meat. You put meat on it. I didn’t want meat.
WAITRESS: You don’t want?
PARTNER: No, you put meat on it.

I don’t want to give the impression that my partner is not a good communicator but he was definitely not getting his point across.

ME: All he wants is a bagel and butter. Nothing else on it. Bagel. Butter. That’s it.
WAITRESS: Ah.

She took away the plate and after a lot longer than it should have taken (which was another warning sign) she came back with his bagel, toasted, with butter and bacon.

My mouth slowly dropped open. I wasn’t surprised, not really. I was amazed at how stupid the situation was, not to mention the waitress. I looked at my partner who looked stunned and give him a look that asked “OK Champ. Now what? Dare you send it back?” (My facial expressions can be incredibly loquacious.)

“If I send this back who knows what it’ll have on it next. Liverwurst?” So he shrugged and ate it. And how was the bacon? “Crispy and tasty.”

So we left and as we walked back to the car he pointed out another dinky little place and told me that last year he had a whole chicken dinner there.

Next time I choose the restaurant.

 

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