If I Only Had a Gun

Yesterday my son was late to school and hadn't eaten breakfast. I tell him to walk ahead while I run into the Dunkin' Donuts on 105th Street to buy him a bagel. About a half-second ahead of me into the door is a middle-aged, unshaven guy in a porkpie hat who blocks my way as he slowly shuffles up the the counter and says: "Hey, sweetheart, will you be my girlfriend?"


"C'mon, I be sweet to you, baby."

"What can I get for you, sir?"

"I buy a coffee if you give me a kiss."

I guess that sexual harassment course is only required for people who work. It was clearly going to take this guy a long time to buy a cup of coffee. And I needed to get the bagel and catch up with my son before school started.

People started to line up behind me. We all waited while he continued to hassle the countergirl, got his coffee, slowly counted out change and shuffled away.

What bugs me is not the "hey baby" piece - it's the pokiness at the front of the line while others stand and fidget. You know it's coming when a customer:

  • reads her three-year-old twins all of the 27 ice cream flavors and leaves it up to them to decide
  • starts to argue about why he should be able to buy beer with his WIC coupon
  • slowly takes out a coin purse and digs around in it, squinting at every quarter, nickel and penny
  • asks "Do you take checks?"

I used to experience this kind of thing in the South, when every transaction at the Piggly Wiggly included a personal conversation too. At the time it was annoying, but also charming (since I was usually on vacation at the time).

After 25 years in Manhattan, it's not charming anymore.