A Post By: Michael Gallo
This past Friday I went to New York City for the weekend. The city that never sleeps, the city where dreams are made. The city full of pigeons that could kill and eat a house cat. NYC has plenty of people that you could call “strange”. In fact, these people would probably be weird even if they lived in Cincinnati, but because they’re in such a large city, there are more “strange” people per square foot. Needless to say, with so many strange people, you see some weird things and meet some real characters. The following is a list of strange things I either saw or over heard while in the beautiful city that is New York, all within the first 24 hours.
1. The seemingly intoxicated Q33 bus driver
On the 8th day, God tried to figure out how to get from La Guardia to downtown Manhattan. Train that goes straight there? Nope. Bus that goes straight there? Sure, if you want to get dropped off in Harlem. I had to connect. Easy, I thought. I’ll take the Q33 bus, hook up with the 7 train at Jackson Heights in Queens and then just be-bop over to the E all the way to 34th and 8th. Boom town. But wait, there’s more! Just for playing today Mr. Gallo, you get to ride on driver Jose Rico Ensuardo Juarez’s bus! And he’s been drinking!
Those of you who know me, know that I’ve almost died on numerous occasions, and yet NEVER have I feared for my life like I did on Jose’s bus. He swerved through traffic (in a city bus mind you), drove one handed (the other hand was on the horn the entire time, including as we drove past a sign saying, ‘fines for honking’), and got so worked up at other drivers that he actually at one point stood up. He even took a turn so fast a woman fell over and a black woman who was fanning herself actually said, “oh lordy!” This guy was driving like such a maniac he made a black woman play into a 90 year old stereotype. When he got to Jackson Heights I ran off the bus and leaned on a building, catching my breath. I didn’t look at the building’s sign, but it was in Queens so it was either a muffler shop or a cell phone accessory store.
2. The unconscious man on the subway
Some people commute a very long way on the subway, so it isn’t ridiculous that some people like to shut their eyes and sleep while they ride. In fact, I’ve actually NEVER been on a subway and not seen someone fast asleep. Some how, these people are wired to some weird biological clock. Without warning or prompting they jolt awake, grab the one shopping bag they’re carrying (with Chinese symbols on the front) and their umbrella (“that’s weird, it’s sunny out…”) and run off the train. Never fails. If you see someone sleeping on a subway, watch them, they’re bound to do something weird.
But leaving Jackson Heights, I saw a guy who wasn’t just asleep, he was in a fucking coma. I was sitting across from him and watching him a good majority of the ride. He had his single shopping bag clutched in one hand and was so fast asleep that he was falling over onto the person next to him. At first, I just thought he was drunk. Luckily, the Asian guy sitting next to him didn’t mind and let some ethnicity ambiguous stranger sleep on his shoulder. When the Asian guy got up at his stop the white/black/Hispanic/Inuit/ slumped over onto the bench. ‘Fuck’ I thought, ‘this guy has been dead this whole time’. But wait…what’s that? Are those parrot noises? The sleeping stranger stirred and then completely sat up, wide awake. He took his cell phone out of his pocket. He had a ringtone that consisted entirely of parrot squawks. He spoke in a language that sounded like a mixture between Spanish and German. I love New York.
3. Textbook douche bag
You know those New York City bars that you see on TV shows that look real shady and are in a back alley? Yeah, I went to one of those while I was in New York. It was called Blaggards. The sign out front said Blaggards in black letters on a navy blue sign. Figure that one out. Inside, it sort of smelled like beer and piss. That’s how I like my bars. Periodically, a mouse would leave the women’s restroom and parade among the bar patrons. And while I was sitting among friends trying to enjoy a jack and coke that was jacked up and not so much coked up, “he” walked up us. This guy was a textbook douche bag. White dude, flat bill hat, tennis chain, sweater with alternating black stripes and rainbow colors, buzzed hair, perfectly trimmed quasi beard, and sagging dark jeans. He sauntered over to our table and stood, politely waiting for our conversation to end. When we stopped he said, “hey are you guys looking at me?” We said no. He said, “are you sure? Cause I feel like you guys are looking at me. Do we have a problem?” We all said no again. He left. At one point I look over at him and he’s drinking two budweisers at once (bottle style). I wish I could be him. He comes over a second time. This time he says, “yo, we’re cool” and high fives me and two other friends. His BAC was probably in the high .3’s. 30 minutes later he makes his third appearance. He says, “Yo, do we have a problem? You keep looking over at me.” Everyone at my table assures this gentleman that we are not looking at him. “Yeah but I hate gay boys looking at me!” He says. No one says anything. His friends come over and grab him. I laugh, thinking about all the awesome things this particular douche bag will eventually accomplish in his life.
New York has a special place in my heart, and this weekend only reminded me of how excited I am to eventually call NY home again. I love everything about it. Even the strange people. Because aren’t we all human in the end? Well, everyone except for that asshole at Blaggards.