ManDogDollars — Poignant, funny UES encounter — Standing at the bus stop on Lex/88-89. Sidewalk very, very narrow. There’s Annie’s Market, located within the bus stop, bedecked with flowers and produce. Next to it, going downtown, is a small shop that sells candy, newspapers, lottery tickets. Lady and dog walk out of shop. Man, inside shop buying something, left his backpack on the street. Lady and dog walk into Annie’s. A few seconds later the man comes running out of the candy store, picks up his backpack, and starts wailing and walking in a circle swinging and waving the backpack. On the verge of meltdown, he’s looking up and down the street for the lady with the dog. Checks Annie’s, goes inside. Within seconds, the man, the lady and her dog are standing in the entrance way of Annie’s. The man is still waving the backpack and frantically pointing to a portion of it and showing it to the lady. She takes out her wallet and tries giving him money. Two dollars. Five dollars. Seven dollars. Bus riders and passersby have no clue as to what’s going on. Here’s what happened - the nice doggie, seeing an unattended backpack, lifted his leg and peed on it. The man whose pack was peed on was especially upset because his clothing, his lunch, his everything was in the backpack. All interventions from the bus riders and passersby were to no avail - until, that is, a lady standing at the bus stop told the lady with the dog to give the man some money to buy a new backpack. Out came a twenty dollar bill. “Give him $27,” the bus stop lady interjected. “You were giving him $7 anyway.” Still frantic, the man took the $27 and said he’d buy a new backpack and another lunch. Lesson: Watch your back and your backpack.
City sidewalk packs — Starting with Whole Foods 87th/Third — A very, very windy Thursday morning. Leaving Whole Foods from 87th Street exit. Shopper and store staffer standing in the vestibule between the automatic doors talking and moving bags so they can place them into the unattended shopping cart left on the street. Suddenly a strong wind hits the shopping cart. The cart starts moving quickly down the street almost hitting a woman walking with a baby in a stroller. Screams. Pedestrians, shoppers scrambling to grab the moving cart. The Whole Foods staffer was able to stop the cart as it grazed the woman with the stroller. Something has to be done so that unattended shopping carts are not left on the street outside the Whole Foods store, or any store for that matter. Whole Foods has signs saying where to enter (on 88th St.) and where to exit (87th) the store. They should put up warning signs that carts cannot be left unattended or untethered on the sidewalk.
And other sidewalk dangers — A moving shopping cart is but one example of the dangers of Manhattan’s crowded sidewalks which are more challenging than ever and getting worse. Vying for sidewalk space in Manhattan you’ll find pedestrians, pets, wheelchairs, walkers, shopping carts, toddlers, moms or dads or nannies (sometimes all at the same time) wheeling babies in strollers, runners, speed walkers, people with disabilities, kids on scooters, the upright, the uptight. Exacerbating the challenge in many instances are the conditions of some of the city’s sidewalks — broken, cracked, bordered off where there’s construction, hard-to-access curb cuts, uprooted trees, overflowing wastebaskets, street vendors, delivery bikes tethered to street poles. Safety is a real concern for New Yorkers when walking the city’s streets and sidewalks. Now bikers want sidewalk. NOT. Cycling on the sidewalk should be a punishable offense. It’s unsafe and unduly dangerous and should be treated as such.
Fairway 86th foibles — Hot stuff — Big sign at the hot food section located opposite one of the check-out lines announcing BEST FOOD ONLY @ FAIRWAY — HOT BAR — ENJOY THEM NOW OR TAKE THEM HOME’ — forget the grammar. How does one “enjoy them now” when there’s no place to eat “them” in the store? Unlike the West Side Fairway, Fairway 86 has a take-out café, not an eat-in cafe. I don’t think Fairway wants shoppers walking around the store eating food from its hot food bar — plus they would be using their fingers because plastics aren’t provided.
Counting beans — A kindly Fairway staffer asked an elderly customer waiting on the check-out line if he wanted her to get him soup when he asked what soups they had that day. Told lentil and chicken noodle, he said lentil. Large or small? Large. The staffer meticulously ladled the lentils from the soup bar to the take-home cup making sure to fill the cup to the max with loads of lentils, little broth. Nice of her to help out the gentleman - beans are better than broth. But what about the next customer waiting to get a cupful, large or small, of lentil soup, and finding only lentil broth? I don’t think so.
Arlene Kayatt’s East Side Encounters runs bi-weekly in Our Town. Know of something she should include in the column? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org