Tag Archives: rude new yorkers

Lame Adventure 449: It’s the Most Familiar Time of the Year

New Year's Day hangover balloons.

New Year’s Day hangover balloons.

Sixteen hours into January 1, 2015, my holiday season officially entered the ether and the most familiar time of the year resumed. This happened when I encountered my first asshat of the New Year: a chap about my age at my go-to supermarket, Fairway. Fairway is a place where, a few years earlier on another New Year’s Day, the toes of my right foot were nearly severed by a girl not much taller than a walking stick burning rubber on a scooter in the produce section. Apparently, that moppet, with parental approval, was training to compete in the Dakar Rally via the broccoli bin. My market could serve double duty all year round as the Asshat Convention Center of America, or ACCA for short.

Fast forward to the ACCA around 4pm on New Year’s Day 2015. I am patiently waiting my turn in a cue of fellow shoppers to grab a hand basket. The man in front of me takes his hand basket that contains some detritus left behind by previous users of that basket. There is a trashcan nearby at the store’s entrance, but Mr. Asshat upends the trash from his basket into mine.

Me: Was that necessary?

Mr. Asshat looks back at me and cringes, possibly flashbacking on his nagging mother. I swipe out the detritus and dump it in the trashcan he chose to ignore. Sufficiently humiliated, he mumbles an apology before scampering down an aisle in a failed effort to turn invisible. But, I appreciated his civility, unlike the last asshat I encountered in the Old Year: a woman half my age reeking attitude.

She crossed my path on another reliable source of suffering: the New York City subway system. This episode in the series, Meet the Asshat, occurred on my second-to-last train ride before embarking on a two-week hiatus from The Grind.

Ms. Asshat was sitting on the crowded 1 local during the morning rush hour with her legs crossed, determined to give anyone near her the boot.

Shin kicker's boot.

Shin kicker’s boot.

Unlike Mr. Asshat in Fairway, my subway riding survival instinct warned that this was a Code Red Asshat, i.e., someone with the potential to detonate. Don’t provoke her. I got lucky and scored a seat allowing me to escape her foot follies. Everyone else near her came close to getting it in the shin. Her nasty expression screamed f-bomb. Fellow riders shared my cautious vibe and were mute around this volatile asshat. There are times when New Yorkers know to zip the lip.

Days later, I was in mellow mode visiting kith and kin in the San Francisco Bay Area. While in Sausalito with my best friend from college, BatPat, we strolled through a neighborhood of storybook-style houseboats docked on calm waters.

Mini mansions in idyllic Waldo Harbor.

Mini mansions in idyllic Waldo Harbor.

Many of these whimsical vessels belong to artists and writers.

Tim Burton-esqe style houseboat from behind.

Tim Burton-esqe style houseboat from behind.

Tim Burton-esque style boat from the front-ish.

Tim Burton-esque style boat from the front-ish.

I flashed on ditching the steady stream of petty irritations that are such a key ingredient in big city life in exchange for the tranquility of a floating nest and the camaraderie of courteous neighbors with cool cats.

Super cool houseboat cat Bow.

Super cool houseboat cat Bow.

Bow's super cool houseboat home.

Bow’s super cool houseboat home.

But whom am I kidding? Within a month, or an hour, my blunt force trauma temperament would surface and I could be the resident asshat in Shangri-la.

In front of my home, this bombshell might be active.

In front of my home, this bombshell might be active.

I am allergic to cats, I can’t swim and my astrological sign should be Seasick. I can do mellow by the shot glass, but my personality is frantic by the barrel.

Cool in principle but not for me.

The Neversail Ark: cool in principle but not for me.

Shortly after I returned from my California getaway, I was briskly walking down my block on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It was five in the afternoon, a time of day that looks exactly like ten at night in winter, when I found myself doing a double take on what else? A sweating package identified as fresh chicken.

Re-gift chicken.

Re-gift chicken.

I don’t know what gave me the willies more: knowing that I reside in close proximity to a New York City asshat who re-gifts fowl, or later that evening, when I went out again and saw that there had been a taker. A few years ago, New York City was besieged with a bedbug epidemic. Have we graduated to salmonella sharing in 2015? Meanwhile, a New Year has dawned once again replete with a new crop of New York City asshats. The time of the year may no longer be the most wonderful, but it is certainly back to being the most familiar.

Asshat New Yorker-style Christmas tree disposal.

Asshat New Yorker-style Christmas tree disposal.

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Lame Adventure 323: One of Those Days

As I have mentioned in earlier tales, I like to volunteer usher off-Broadway plays.  In return for my services I get to see theater for free. My most recent ushering gig was for a musical at a respected off-Broadway playhouse.  The audience was replete with jerks.  It would be easy to blame the heat and humidity but this theater’s temperature is set twelve months of the year at Freeze Your Ass Off level.

Approximately ten minutes before curtain a male-female senior citizen couple that looked like they held post-graduate degrees in the Department of Equally Unattractive Toads approached.  They were either married forever or siblings.

Me:  May I see your tickets please?

Senior Citizen Man:  Go fuck yourself.

He brushed past me followed by her and they headed straight for two front row seats.  I resisted the urge to croak like a frog.

Cute lizard since I don’t have a shot of an ugly toad in my library.

Soon after it was discovered that a seat with a number belonging to a woman with a ticket had been double-booked and removed to accommodate a wheelchair bound chap.  She was understandably perplexed.  The House Manager offered to relocate her to an empty seat next to two elderly gay men, but they pitched such a fit it gave the impression that he had suggested she sit on them rather than next to them.  He repeatedly tried to explain the situation but they were livid.

Often, it’s usual to commiserate with co-ushers about audience members with the social skills of tree stumps, but I was coincidentally working with a mute, gum-chewing middle aged guy devoid of any signs of possessing a personality gene.  If the chemistry between us could be illustrated, it would be a flat line.  In fairness, maybe he had just quit smoking and was chewing nicotine gum.

My co-usher as shown in the animal kingdom.

The House Manager had instructed us to stand in front of the stage during intermission because the footlights were highly calibrated and very sensitive.  If touched they could go instantly out of whack.  He instructed my co-usher and I to stand watch at opposite sides of the stage.  As soon as we reach the stage I see a morbidly obese man leaning on my side of the stage.  I think:

Me (thinking):  The portrait of the story of my life.

I approach the man:

Me:  Sir, theater management has requested no leaning against the stage.

Man:  Why?

Me (what I want to say):  Why?  Because your BMI is a liability, and we don’t want the lights knocked off their axis by your wide load!  That’s why!

Me (what I say):  The lights are computer controlled and any contact with them risks nullifying their highly sensitive calibration.

He moves.

Meanwhile my gum-chewing co-usher is staring into space possibly fantasizing about lighting up.  He’s completely oblivious to the three women on his side of the stage parked against it.  I approach the women and ask them to move.  They do.  My co-usher extinguishes his imaginary Marlboro.  I give him the stink eye.  Upon seeing me return to my station the three women resume leaning on the stage, but this time Dudley Do-nothing finally takes his mind off his chewing and tells them to scram.

As intermission is ending a woman asks me:

Woman:  How much longer is this?

This, a sure sign that she hates the show, but I’m not too keen on it, either.  Maybe I should ask her for her number?  Possibly she lives in digs with air conditioning?  I repress my inner pimp and remain professional:

Me:  An hour.

She’s visibly upset but resists telling me off.

After the show, my co-ushers and I do a quick sweep of the theater. Fifteen minutes later, I bolt, grateful that this annoying gig is over. I zig and zag through the dense crowd filling 42nd Street to my uptown subway.  Even though I’m subject to a three-minute wait and the platform is hotter than the Sahara, I can still feel the residual chill from the Arctic-like temperature in the theater.  I don’t feel like I could collapse from heat stroke with a thud.  The express train pulls into the station.  It’s not terribly crowded and although I could grab a seat, I let other passengers do so instead.  I only have to travel one stop.  Life is good!

Free as this butterfly!

My thoughts return to my favorite sports, eating and sleeping. I absently move my right foot. It feels glued to the car’s floor.  That’s when I realize that I’m standing on a huge, soft sticky wad of gum.  It was definitely one of those days.

It smelled like spearmint.

Lame Adventure 137: Some of New York’s Least Finest

Milton and I recently attended a weeknight preview screening of Sofia Coppola’s upcoming release, Somewhere, at the AMC 34th Street Theater, a few blocks west of Herald Square.  We arrived early to ensure ourselves good seats in the middle of the middle of the theater.  As I led the way into our chosen row, I hit my brakes a seat shy of dead center when I noticed a wad of gum strategically placed on the cup holder of the once most select seat in the row.  I pointed a finger at the abomination.

Me:  Look at that.

Attention getter

I lean right, giving Milton a better view as he leans left and peers over my shoulder.

Milton:  That’s disgusting.

We remove our layers of coats, hats, and scarves and settle into our seats next to The Contaminated One.  I take out my camera and proceed to shoot photographs.  As I show Milton my pictures on the viewfinder we discuss this bit of anonymous moviegoer DNA.

Me:  Who would do something like that?  It’s so hostile.

Milton ponders before delivering his verdict.

Milton:  A real New Yorker.  Who else would be both inconsiderate and original?

"Hey, I'm going to get popcorn. Keep an eye on my gum."

Milton:  Whoever did that probably heard that if you stick gum on your seat, it serves as a bed bug deterrent.  Soon enough, we’ll all be doing that.

I doubt that Milton’s bed bug deterrent theory has any credence, but that choice seat was people-averse in an otherwise sold out screening.  Something else unusual is that we were not asked once, “Is that seat taken?”  It was evident that no one wanted to take it.  Some gum chewing New Yorkers might be inconsiderate slobs, but most New Yorkers, whether gum chewing or not, do have a threshold when it comes to their proximity to something gross as evidenced that night.

For anyone inclined to see Somewhere, by all means go but go fast for once it opens later this month it may not be in theaters for very long.  It’s a beautifully acted and photographed wisp of a story set in the Chateau Marmont hotel that has a strong European sensibility, which might bore the daylights out of mainstream filmgoers with a penchant for special effects and traditional narratives.

The Rudes, the couple sitting next to Milton had no qualms spontaneously talking in a normal tone of voice during the middle of the film, completely distracting everyone within earshot.  Since I am rather hard of hearing, at first I thought their utterances were part of the soundtrack.  Milton thought that they were under the impression that they were in their own private screening room – apparently oblivious to the few hundred guests, and the dozen that were around them flashing near-psychotic stink eyes.  Although Milton wanted to beat them both with a gum-decorated armrest, he resisted.  A woman sitting in front of The Rudes finally gave them a loud “Shush!”  That message penetrated their granite skulls.  I’m grateful that they remembered to leave their yapping punt dog at home.  Too bad they forgot they were in a movie theater when they started gassing about who’s going to pick up the fish for dinner.