Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Keeping Up With Crazy, vol. 1

You want to see crazy people? Go to a sandwich/chopped salad place around 1:00pm in a mostly commercial area of NY. Want to amplify your crazy? Go to what I consider to be the only one with decent food in the entire financial district, Patuca, and you find yourself in the epicenter of hungry people whose drive for at-desk-productivity outweighs the quality of life that comes with taking a lunch hour… or people like me, who would rather go back to their desk and singlehandedly try and watch everything has to offer than sit in City Hall Park and enjoy the lovely weather, er, fog/rain.

Personally, I find crazy people fascinating, so I quite enjoy the priceless people watching in a hot, crowded deli. Before you even get into what really makes people tick in these places, there’s usually someone dressed as though they clearly forgot they had to be in public for most of the day. I understand that office thermostats are often set around 30* below, but that does not give you carte blanche to walk around looking like the bastard child of the Easter Bunny and Batman.

By that I mean, I saw a woman walk in wearing a teal “sweater” with elongated sides all around which I am assuming are meant to wrap around you for extra warmth, but the problem was that you couldn’t even see armholes. It was as if she cut a hole in her childhood security blanket and set out to her adult day. I mean, this thing would have put living room throw blankets to shame. A snuggie would be more fashionable and frankly, more trendy. I wanted to take a picture of the crazy woman in her bat cape, but I stopped just short of snapping it, in part because my blackberry camera has a flash that would have gone off and attracted attention and in part because of something that rarely happens with me. I stopped and thought, would I want someone to do this to me on an off, ahem, hungover day? No, no I wouldn’t.

Enough empathy for now. Back to my comfort zone: picking apart mannerisms of perfect strangers who never did anything to me. Thank goodness for the protective glass covering the salad ingredients. I have to believe that were it not there, people would point to their desired ingredient not stopping short of sticking their swine flu carrying fingers in there for a sampling.

Crazy happens during ordering and there’s really no reason. I get how it can be unnerving to wait in a long line and then have to depend on someone who might not speak the best English to put together your precious lunch. (Note to self: the ability to speak Spanish would really come in handy here – way to go on growing up in Florida and studying French for six years). Anyhow, think about it; there are about 20 options of various salad/sandwich toppings. Even if the person serving you doesn’t exactly speak the queen’s English – or have a green card – when their job is to make salads for people all day, every day, what do you want to bet they understand the words “tomato,” ‘cucumber,” “beets” and “delicious goat cheese?” And frankly, worst case scenario they screw up and make you a new one? You’re paying $15 for lettuce. They’ll start from scratch.

Speaking of $15 salads, price point is another thing that cause people to go bonkers. I don’t understand it. I stood in front of a troll woman in the sandwich line the other day that, of course, was clawing over protective glass covering to scream out complex orders of tomatoes and sprouts. Well, this troll woman was none too pleased with the amount of avocado on her sandwich, quietly suggested they give her more and then turned to me I guess looking for sympathy and gave a little, “harrumph!” Umm, hey lady, do I strike you as a person who would give a shit about the amount of avocado that the sandwich guy allocated to your sandwich, because I don’t. So please step far enough out of my personal space to notice the sporting of the wayfarers inside, the earbuds in-ear and the BBM to Casey in hand and know that I’m not interested in anything having to do with your lunch.

Of course what I just said is BS because after she started snorting off like the woman troll she was, I kind of needed to know how it would pan out. Clearly not needing more avo on her sammy, she barks at them to add more, so they do. She then completely loses her cool when they charge her an additional $0.50, as per the board that says: Additional Toppings $0.50 each. Right. I mean, am I the only one who finds it embarrassing to cause a stir over the difference between a $6.75 and $7.25 sandwich? I get that the eating out adds up, but honestly, if you’re concerned about saving money, buy groceries and bring in your lunch.

Lastly, perhaps what’s most troubling is that I actually think about it this much. I mean, none of this matters, but when you go to the same place nearly every day, there’s a lot of time to observe. And I’d be lying to say I didn’t love crazy people. On that note, I asked a friend last week if she’d rather go to Iran right now for a month or spend six months in a small town in Tennessee having to watch Fox News and attend Baptist church. She, of course, said Iran and added, “I’d wear those robes around and no one would know how fat I am.” She’s not fat, not even close. However, I suspect she’s not the only one who would make that same choice, crazy as it may be. And strangely enough, I love living in a city with people who would choose chaotic and violent rioting over a certain cable news channel… even if they crowd my personal space while barking off salad orders in an overpriced deli in lower Manhattan.

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