Friday, March 12, 2010

New York Lunch

I got to the same deli every weekday. It's newish, around the corner from my office, and is called Bistro—but the name hardly matters. I didn't even notice the deli had a name until a friend from Greece was in town. He read the sign out front, clever man.

What matters is that this deli is one of those classic NYC-mega delis. One section has a juice bar, one has pasta, one has salad, one has sandwiches, and in the middle is a hot bar.

I'm a creature of habit. I get a hot chicken or turkey panini almost every day. Sometimes I get pasta with a pile of veggies on it. Once in a blue moon, I hit up the hot bar and force down all veggies for lunch.

Last Thursday, I was waiting at the panini section. I'd just noted that someone needed to clean the floor—bits of lettuce and meat were scattered about—when a large Asian man in an apron accosted me.

"EAT," he commanded, handing me a small bite-sized piece of a sandwich.

Startled, I obediently accepted the snack. It was a slice of roast beef, lettuce, tomato, mozzarella, horseradish, and Peter Luger's sauce on a stiff baguette.

Mmmmm, delicious.

The man continued to badger other customers, who were as stunned but obedient as I had been. Those who resisted were mocked. "Take it. Just taste it."

I proceeded with my chicken panini purchase—as delicious as the snack was, it would have to be a pretty special occasion for me to chow down on that sauce-and-steak-laden huge pice of bread.

I was back in the deli on Tuesday. Uh-oh, here he comes again. I steeled myself against accepting the enforced free sandwich. Other customers, I saw, were similarly toughened this time.

I shook my head when he accosted me. I didn't think I'd get away with it, but he was distracted when a flurry of new targets walked up. He shoved the delicious treat under one woman's nose.

"Eep! I'm vegetarian," she squeaked.

"Ohhhh... I'm so sorry." The deli-man seemed truly remorseful. He paused then launched sandwiches at the next surprised customer.

The next man took it and gulped it down, bits of lettuce and meat falling from the sloppy tidbit and landing on the floor.

Ah, that's where the floor-debris comes from.

Then, the deli-man added a new line to his barrage of commands. He offered up a napkin.

"Wipe your face, man. You look like a slob."

And wipe his face he did. We all do what the deli-man demands of us.

1 comment:

John Bligh said...

Are you sure he works there? Or is he just some random homeless bum?