Tag Archives: NYC

A Letter to the 7 Eleven Employee Who Gave Me Extra Potato Wedges

Dear Night Manager Greg,

I understand that you felt that you were doing me a favor when you “gave me a few extra” potato wedges with my order. You certainly didn’t have to be considerate. If I were in the employ of a convenience store, I would go the extra mile to not create smiles on the faces of strangers. You are the bigger man. And here therein lies the problem: you’re trying to make me your bigger man apprentice. Literally and figuratively.

I had already shamed my family — generations of pale, thin-framed Anglos — by deciding to get dinner from your store. I live in Brooklyn, where one could literally find anything to eat if they were willing to put in the effort. You want Ethiopian? No problem. Vegan tacos? Definitely. Freshly maimed alpaca? Yessiryoubetcha. It’s all around, the world is your oyster, a freshly shucked bucket of them. So it takes a certain type of asshole to walk into a 7 Eleven and get genuinely excited to see fried foodstuffs mildly toasting under a red lamp.

“2 for $2? Is it my birthday? I’ll take twelve, good sir!” I squealed with delight.

I suppose you could sense my enthusiasm, not that it wasn’t bursting at the seams, like so much pants. You proceeded to pluck the finest of Corn Dog Rollers© with the delicacy of an obstetrician extracting a newborn from a mother’s netherest of regions.

You selected the MVP of Buffalo Chicken Go-Go Taquitos©, giving a quick wink in my direction, which I gladly accepted and etched onto the tablet of my heart.

Then came the potato wedges. Oh, the potato wedges. They were the Arc de Triomphe of my order, the Starry Starry Night of my appetite, there to satisfy in ways only God Himself could understand. There’s a reason why you’re in charge of this corner store, obviously, because when you saw me light up like a hot-air balloon when you reached for the potato tongs, a knowing smile graced your lips.

You thought to yourself, “This guy works hard, with his pressed slacks and slouched shoulders. He deserves your kindness, Greg. Pay it forward.”

I watched eagerly, like a puppy peering at a bowl being filled on a countertop, as you continued to pile wedges into a tiny box.

“Is that one going to fit? Oh, I hope it does,” I thought, knowing full well you’d make the room.

One-by-one you placed those bountiful spuds upon their brethren, going on for what felt like hours. And as you closed the lid, I felt an odd sense of relief, like there was just too much beauty surrounding this infinite world for one man to handle.

You clicked it shut, looked deep within my shaken eyes, and said, “I gave you a few extra,” like I wasn’t already keenly aware of your good grace.

It was at this moment that I felt loss, a deep sense of longing that had never before entered my soul. What else had I been missing all this time? Why did it take 31 years for me to witness an act of authentic compassion? Did I deserve what was just given to me? So many times have I passed those on the street that very blatantly needed my help: homeless families, lost dogs, ladies with brand-new haircuts yet to be complimented, babies in need of cheek pinchings, etc.

With these questions buzzing around my feeble mind, I could not enjoy my expertly prepared meal. Every bite felt greedy, full of the tears of the less-thans. Not to mention the grease that was burning the roof of my mouth. That didn’t help.

I spent an hour trying to choke down the last of those wedges, dabbing the moisture from my eyes, and the oily substance congealing on the corner of my mouth. It was a humbling experience. The kind that leads men to madness or monasteries. If I wasn’t a sex addict, the latter would have found me.

So explains the reason for this correspondence. You need to know that your actions have consequences, good intentions or no. I don’t want this information to lay heavy in your mind; this was not my goal. Simply, the next time a simple-minded sort walks into your store, maybe skimp them a little. They’ll be subdued by these actions, maybe even respect you for them. Also, you’ll delay their heart attack/diabetes by a few days. Their children will thank you.

You’re great at your job, Greg. Possibly the best to ever do the work. I’ll speak of you to future generations, making you immortal.

With respect and heartburn,
Matthew

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How to Make a Cop Laugh in Your Face: A Tutorial

Officers, when you put me in this position I can't do my work.

New York can be a confusing place for a recent transplant. You don’t want to look like a tourist, ripe for the picking for the thousands of nogoodniks, ruffians, and roustabouts. So you concoct this faux-bravado that should, if successful, make you appear invincible to a week-long vacation in the ICU. You walk with a purpose, defiant against those that want to stop and stare at pigeons –“Yes, that one’s black. Amazing. Now get your Tommy Bahama shirt out of my way.” You hide behind sunglasses, mean mug like someone just told you the Cheesy Gordita Crunch has been permanently discontinued, and you certainly  don’t openly wave about your gaggle of Apple products. You are local, and just like your close friends, The Wu Tang Clan, you are not to be fucked* with.

But you also don’t want this facade to turn a tame interaction into the perfect shitstorm. You want to be prepared for anything, but this can lead to something the French like to call, “le wacky situation.” An example would be, say, thinking somebody is attempting to rob you, so you react as any tough-as-nails New Yorker would: with violence. Only this person isn’t trying to rough you up. You have done something stupid. You have egg on your face. You look ridiculous. You may soon have a court date.

This was me last week. Only I decided to boost, Jamba Juice style, my wacky situation by almost physically assaulting a member of the NYPD.

I have never been in a fight. I’ve never so much as slapped a bully for getting saucy on the playground. So if I had received my very first felony for accosting a cop, the Irony Police would have been on my ass for giving them too much paperwork. This surely would have sent me spiraling toward a life of breaking into Paint Your Own Pottery stores to huff fresh acrylics. I do not deal with Job-esque trials very well. This was a close call.

I was returning from one of my usual late nights at a Starbucks near Times Square (streaming episodes of Becker on Netflix, of course), heading toward the 42nd Street subway stop. I had my headphones on — another tactic used to look unapproachable in the city — so I was not living in the land of the hearing-abled. When I reached the end of the stairs leading toward the platform, I felt a hand pushing me from behind, trying to lead me around a corner. Given that I couldn’t hear a thing, I just assumed that I was about to be shanked to bits in the darkened catacombs of the New York underground. So I pushed the hand away from my back, and spun around ready to wildly destroy a man’s holy of holies with my fists. Luckily, I wasn’t high on fresh kiln fumes and I had my wits about me, so I immediately recognized the man in blue with the shiny piece of metal attached to his chest. I shouted out, “OH, MY GOD, I COULDN’T HEAR YOU!” and waited for the warm embrace of electricity to overtake my body.

Presented immediately to my left, the very direction I was being guided, was a table for bag checks. And sitting behind the table was another cop, trying not to laugh in my face. The officer behind me just shook his head and said, “Random bag check, sir,” and walked away. I continued to apologize to the laughing man, who politely said, “Maybe don’t play your music so loud. Have a nice night,” and sent me on my way to Fresh Change of Pants Island.

Is there a moral to this story? Perhaps it is to not automatically assume that everyone in New York City wants to shatter your inner goodness. Possibly. But I’m going to go with the ever popular “Rock and Roll is the work of the devil and should be destroyed through prayer.” If I hadn’t been listening to that filth at such a dastardly volume, I never would have found myself in such a quandary. Now I’m off to watch The Food Network to count how many times someone says the word “loins.” EVERYONE KNOWS THAT PORK LOINS ARE THE CREATION OF THE GAY CHEF AGENDA!**

* Sorry, mom. For Mother’s Day this weekend, I vow to hold my curs-ed tongue.
** For the record, I’m on board with this agenda. Have you seen Brian Boitano’s show? Dude can cook!

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