In my stand-up routine, I have a joke about witnessing a man hail the subway. True story. I was on the platform in Chelsea waiting for the C train when a man next to me hailed the subway as it was pulling into the station. Hands down, that is my favorite moment I’ve experienced in Manhattan. I premise the joke by saying that everyday, especially in the summer heat, New Yorkers snap. I only hope to avoid the day when I lose my shit and drop kick someone with a clip board outside Whole Foods asking me if I want to save the children. Of course I want to save the children. Tomorrow. Or when my Commerce checking account hits the positive mark. Back to the snapping. Last Sunday I was hosting at my friend's restaurant in Gramercy Park. I know what you’re thinking. Hosting Sunday brunch? Stop bragging! Periodically, I host to earn extra cash for the victims of Tierra del Fuego. That and I need new Puma sneakers (sewn by small children who need to be saved). Around one o’clock in the afternoon the snapping incident occurs. Here are a few key details. The line of people waiting for brunch wraps around the block. Why the bejesus people wait forty minutes for eggs is mind blowing. More details. It's 90 degrees and I'm sweating through my salmon colored shirt, which at this point has faded and taken on the color of discontinued peach. I’ve been dealing with aggressive hung over egg enthusiasts since 10 am and I'm no longer fresh faced. My manager and dear friend Michael decides to bring a bucket of sorbet outside and give each customer a scoop while they wait. How delightful! He wants to appease the guests, I want them to get brain freeze. As Michael scoops out the last treats of summer, a woman marches by and begins yelling. After nine years in New York, it's easy to spot a crazy person. Wild hair, one shoe, speaks through a puppet tucked into their shirt, etc. This woman camouflaged her insanity with proper hygiene, nice clothes, cell phone and a friend by her side. Those are the toughest to spot. The transcript follows:
CRAZY LADY: You can’t serve anything on the sidewalk without a city vendor’s permit!
ERIN: What?! Ma’m were giving sorbet to the people in line.
CRAZY LADY: That’s illegal! I’m calling the mayor’s office immediately!
ERIN: (insert sarcasm) What a great idea! Definitely, call the mayor. It’s only ninety degrees outside. That’s sound perfect!
CRAZY LADY: I will! What’s your name for reference?
ERIN: (yelling) SASHA!
At this point, the woman walks by Michael and snaps a picture of him on her camera phone. One pervert gets captured on a camera phone and suddenly everyone is their own PI. About an hour later, we receive a phone call from the crazy lady. She spews on and on about the legalities of vending permits, tossing around the words “Bloomberg” and “ensuing arrests”. Michael argues that one does not need a vending permit if there’s no charge for the goods. Earlier, we called 311 to confirm that her shit was bananas. When asked whom she was speaking with, Michael replied, “Sasha”.
Some days it takes every ounce of strength to remain positive in this city. Some days it requires mimosas. Normally I would urge anyone to do whatever it takes to experience New York. However, when you hail a subway or spend a lazy Sunday afternoon demanding vending permits, it’s time to leave. Get the Uhaul and hit the suburbs.