Back at the end of October, I went to go celebrate my birthday in NYC, clear my head a bit from the events of the previous few weeks, wanted to be back in the city I lived in for a few years and of course, wanted to spend some time with Karen.
So, I flew in on Friday the 24th and the following day, Karen and I went to the Lower East Side to a club called Fat Baby, to meet up with some friends of hers; one in particular who was getting married or leaving town or both. So to not bore you with minute details, we'll fast forward several hours.
There's an upstairs and a downstairs. I had a tab open at the bar upstairs and was hanging with Karen downstairs. She suggested I go upstairs and close my tab, seeing as how we were evidently spending the remainder of the night downstairs. I went upstairs and the bar was extremely packed and busy, so I figured I would take that opportunity to go outside and have a smoke (I just quit 2 weeks ago today, BTW). It was while smoking outside I realized that I was feeling a little inebriated and slightly empty, so I decided to venture and look for something to eat. After walking 2 blocks in this direction and 2 blocks in that direction, I finally settled on a large Hal-Al stand which coincidentally was directly across the street from the club. Why I didn't go there in the first place, I do not know. In case you don't know what I mean by Hal-Al; they're like the Middle Eastern guys that have the gyros and kabobs and whatnot.
I walked up and was really not interested in the gyros, kabobs and anything else that was both grilling and fermenting in their own flavors, so I decided to go with a hot dog.
Me: "Can I get a hot dog, with Sauerkraut, mustard and a little relish and onions, please."
He proceeds to set this all up for me.
As he is handing me the goods, he looks at me and says;
Vendor: "Do you mind watching the cart while I go to the bathroom."
Vendor: "I really need to go to the bathroom. Do you mind watching the cart for me while I go? It's just inside that store across the street."
Me: "Uhm....watch THE cart?! Are you serious? You're kidding, right?"
Vendor: "Yeah, please watch..." as he takes off!
Now, I am left standing there; feeling like I just got recruited into something I wanted no part of. As I stand there, I think to myself, "Ok, I'm going to stand here for the duration of time it takes me to finish this hot dog. Mind you, we're talking like 2 minutes, tops. As I take my first bite, I'm staring at the cart as though it were a nuclear reactor or something. Now mind you, I consider myself a pretty accomplished cook but I won't lie; there was a level of intimidation. Or perhaps embarrassment? I mean, what if an attractive girl walked by and assumed I was the "hot dog guy" and not hot dog in the good way either!
I'm not done fully chewing my first bite, nor processing my thoughts when suddenly I feel a tap on my shoulder. "Hey man, 2 chicken kabobs." A random yuppie-looking drunk guy asks.
Me: "Uhm, I don't work here, dude. I'm just eating my hot dog."
Drunk: "Where is the guy?"
Me: "Believe it or not, he actually walked away and said he was going to the bathroom."
Drunk: "Really? Hhmmm."
He proceeds to walk past me, grabs 2 kabobs that were resting on the upper shelf of the grill and proceeds to cook them as his two friends start laughing at the situation. I just stand there; I mean, really, what the hell am I supposed to do? Plus, I wanna just finish my hot dog, get back inside, close and re-open my tab and get on with my night; its about 2:00 AM at this point. Now, I'm actually sitting here thinking, I'd better hurry before the guy comes back and tries to somehow pin the cost of this guy's food on me.
As he goes about grilling away, I say, "You know, if I were you, I'd hurry up because he left like a minute ago."
After a few more seconds, he grabs one of the kabobs off the grill and proceeds to eat it and walk away. He had travelled no more than 10 ft. when suddenly the vendor appears. He looks at the one kabob on the grill and looks at me.
Vendor: "What's this?"
Me: (Just now finishing my hot dog) "Uhm, that guy over there (as I point) decided to start cooking and walked away with a chicken kabob."
Vendor: "Did you charge him?!"
Me: "Did I charge him?!?! What the fuck you mean 'Did I charge him?' How the fuck am I supposed to know what to charge him, man!? I don't work for you! You don't have any signs up here stating how much anything is. You go get your money."
The Vendor proceeds to quickly hustle over to the guy and starts haggling him about the kabob. Somewhere I overheard the guy say he would pay to the tune of the vendor claiming the kabob was $6! Holy shit! He must've been price gauging his ass for trying to steal from him. Good thing there was that 1 chicken kabob left, still cooking on the grill. As those two were discussing their matter on the corner, not but 10 ft away from me, I grabbed the last kabob and proceeded to eat it as I walked back inside the club. Hey, aside from having paid for the hot dog, I do think I deserved some form of payment for "working", even if it was short-lived for about 3 mins.
This is actually me, a few minutes after the incident, with Karen.