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Tag Archives: Bensonhurst

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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Get Lost, Anthony Bourdain

9 Jul

July 9, 2017

Have you ever had Moroccan food? Neither have I. But a Moroccan restaurant opened around here and despite the fact that my taste in foreign food starts at pizza and ends at egg rolls I figured let’s give it a shot. I had no idea what Moroccan food was and my general knowledge of the country was, let’s say, limited.

OK, it was Saarah’s idea. It’s always a woman, isn’t it? Guys do things like holding their purses at New York and Company for hours on end while they try on various jeans that all look exactly the same, or carrying heavy pieces of furniture up and down stairs at random, or eating sheisty Moroccan food when a woman asks.

So we went to the restaurant and checked the menu. It didn’t look too objectionable and we went in. We checked it out on Yelp too and saw some reviews. It had five stars after only five reviews but that’s not bad since it just opened the week before. However, I should have seen the red flags. It was only later that I noticed that many of these reviews were by people who had just joined the previous week and reviewed just a single restaurant, this one. Some were duplicated word for word on Facebook. The same exact reviews but under different names. But there were people in the place and it looked clean so we went in.

The front of the place looked like every other place in Bay Ridge. Some tables, a counter, and a long steamer table. But in the back they made a room that looked almost, but not quite, totally unlike what someone like me who knows nothing about Morocco might think a place in Morocco looks like. I’m sure that sentence makes sense. Anyway, it had tables, sofas and cushions, drapes, ugly wallpaper, and a freezer full of cans of Coke. Just like Morocco!

SERVICE: POOR
We were served by a nice waitress who did so much wrong. Brought wrong drinks, did not give condiments after repeated requests, and brought our two main courses almost ten minutes apart. Saarah ate while I waited. (Of course.) Eventually we got tired of waiting for things and started going right to the counter to get what we wanted. I almost caused a riot when I asked the guy basting some sort of meat-like item for sauce. The guy said something to waitress, the waitress said something back to him, the manager got involved and it was all in Moroccan so I can only assume they were talking about me. “Look at this American! Probably wants decadent American ketchup!” Well I got it, but after that the waitress almost nagged us to death. “How is everything? Is everything OK? It is alright? Is it? IS IT???”

Saarah asked for water, expecting us to be poured two glasses of water. Instead she was brought a bottle of water. That wouldn’t have been much of a problem if it was Poland Spring or any name brand, but it was store brand water from BJ’s Club. (Pure bottled semi-clear Hackensack water, I think). She gave it back and asked for a soda. Instead, the waitress brought over a pitcher of water and poured it into the single glass that was sitting on the table when we arrived.

We did not understand why there was only one glass on a table with four settings, nor why only one of us got water. Rightly suspicious of the single odd glass (was it left behind by a previous customer? Was it the restaurant’s only glass?) Saarah asked for a can of soda. After two requests she actually got it.

FOOD: MEDIOCRE
The Chicken Kabob plate, despite being described as “marinated in Moroccan herbs and spices,” was bland. The “Moroccan herbs and spices” seemed to be simple black pepper. Hey! I’m a Moroccan cook too!

The Chicken Tagine is described like this on the menu: “Served with green and red peppers, carrots, potatoes, garlic, and olives.”

a section of their actual menu

What was served had no potatoes, no green peppers, no red peppers, no garlic, five tiny cubes of carrots (we counted!), and tons of olives. The chicken was tasteless.

Also, this place boasts “authentic” Moroccan food. I was not aware that French Fries came from Morocco.

We complained to the owner before we left. (I assume he was the owner since he was wearing a fancy sash, like Miss America.) Why were there no peppers or potatoes? What happened to the garlic? He said we had to ask for them. Saarah showed him the menu and pointed out that it said “served with.” He stuck to his answer that it had to be asked for.

We also had to ask the waitress to bring a salad despite, once again, the fact that the menu said “served with.” She seemed surprised that Saarah wanted it.

On the plus side the Chicken Tagine is served in a nice plate. If dishes are your thing you may be happy with the meal. We were not.

BOTTOM LINE: Poor and confused service, bland food, missing food, and a staff that does not understand their own menu. Do not even ask what I tipped. Or didn’t.

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