Bread, Wine and a punch on the train East Side Encounters

| 04 Apr 2016 | 03:32

    Sonny knows best: Mom and 12-ish son riding down elevator early Saturday morning. Mom feverishly scanning apps and texts and emails. Son carrying an empty, wrinkly fabric shopping bag which was hanging by one handle from his wrist. Basketball in the crook of the elbow of his other arm. Mom suggests, “Why don’t you put the basketball in the bag. It’s just hanging there anyway,” to which son replied, “But mom, then I can’t dribble.” Practice beats practical when you’re 12. Lot of time for practical.

    No bread lines here: Located on 92nd/3rd, Corner Café & Bakery, a combination bakery, full-service restaurant and self-serve café. A favorite of my crowd for convenience, airiness and good soups. My preference is the café. I find the restaurant more like the dining rooms you find when you travel across the U.S. Places that you find in Amish country or Schrafft’s or Longchamps if you go back that far. My main gripe is the freebie roll they serve as soon as you’re seated. Whether you’re ordering a burger or a grilled cheese sandwich, you get a roll. They call it brioche, I call it a dinner roll. Puny little things. One evening I was going to order an entree instead of my serial appetizers, but didn’t want the roll. The manager came over and I explained. She said, “Oh, that’s quite all right, you can substitute bread.” I chose the multi-grain. No charge when I got the bill. Next time at Corner, I substituted the dinner roll for multi-grain and found a $2.95 charge on my bill. Explanation to server was unavailing and she sent over the manager, the same one who made the substitution the first time without charge. This time, however, she told a different story and completely denied that there was ever a substitution without charge. I would not have ordered it the second time if there had been a charge the first time. I can buy a fresh loaf of bread at Whole Foods for maybe $5 or a packaged loaf at the market on 3rd/90th for $3.95. Corner multi-grain, served for dinner, is not freshly sliced. Why would I, or anyone, pay $2.95 for two slices of bread? I’ll stick to the self-serve café section of Corner. I’ll get my own coffee. Get my own soup. And stay away from the dining room and the manager’s overcharges.

    What a way to start the day: A reader writes about an encounter on a downtown East Side subway. 20-something woman with earphones. Standing in crowded train holding a cup of hot coffee. The train speeds along, stops and starts. Coffee spills on gentleman seated in front of woman. She doesn’t apologize or say anything. The wet and scalded gentlemen said something like, you can at least say you’re sorry. Her response, Oh, the train’s too crowded. Couldn’t help it. Nearby passengers start berating the woman. As the doors open, the woman intentionally dumps the remaining coffee on the man. He gets up and punches her. She escapes when the doors open at the next stop, leaving the onlookers arguing about whether the man had the right to punch the liquid-dumping lady. There was disagreement. Another passenger, a mom with a couple of children with her, awed and aglow from what she had just seen, commented to the young ones, “Wasn’t that an exciting way to start the day” Huh! Probably doesn’t see that kind of thing in Podunk. Not sure there are trains. Anyway, New York’s an anything goes type of town and getting more so.

    Mister Wright’ should be selling wine, not whines: The Mister Wright wine shop on 3rd/89th-90th is a showstopper for good, reasonable wines across the spectrum. However, a recent Friday afternoon gave me pause about whether at least one employee forgets what he’s there for - to sell wine. A customer walked in. An employee approached him and asked if he could help. The customer took off his hat (either a cap or beret), and reached out to shake the employee’s hand. The employee, who is the store’s manager, wouldn’t shake hands nor would he look the man in the eye. As an onlooker, it seemed strange that a customer would want to shake hands. But this is NY, USA. Takes all kinds. The manager’s rudeness was compounded by his unwillingness to reach out to the customer in another way - like try to sell him some wine. Find out what the guy likes. What he’s looking for. Tell him about the inventory. What’s new in stock. Big blackboards adorn the street space in front of Mister Wright’s storefront promoting new wines, inexpensive wines, select wines. Seems that if you’re running or working in a business you have to deal with the good, the not so good, and the bad stuff. Judgment counts. This guy who wanted a hand shake came in to buy wine. Do your job. You don’t want to shake hands, don’t. Show him the wine. Don’t dis him. No snarky attitude. Finesse, patience, maybe even a smile. The customer doesn’t need some whiny manager’s attitude. Maybe shaking hands or touching customers is prohibited by Mister Wright’s rules. Maybe Mister Wright is germ phobic. Who knows? Who cares. Maybe it’s just that everyone has the right to be rude. And I have the right to say something - quid pro quo.