Monday, January 26, 2009

The New York Story

Today, and over the weekend, I’ve spent some time coordinating Tony’s wake. I’m dealing with the venue (Manuel’s Tavern – a reminder to those of you that are local – be there) and a menu. I’m also collecting pictures to put into a slide show that a friend is doing.

So, I’ve been talking to people about all of this; and, today I was asked about The New York Story. I mentioned it in the first post I did about Tony’s death and then ranted.

So here it is, with a bit of preface. I write better than I talk. Quit with the jokes. When I talk, I tend to meander. I call it color and nuance. My friends call it not getting to the damn point.

Years ago we were sitting at the neighborhood bar. I’d just been to New York for a deposition and started telling Tony and the guys about it. Tony kept interrupting me and then ragging on me for not getting to the point, “what do I care about the fact that the bellman had epaulets?” I stared back at him and said “fine I won’t tell you the story.” “OK, tell the damn story, I won’t interrupt.” “Nope, I’ll write it down and have it read at my funeral.”

Over the years it became a joke. Tony would ask what happened and I would flip him a bird. Everyone would laugh. So here’s the story. I’ll print this out and have it for the wake. So you know, I tried it out a bit earlier and Big Rick actually smiled a couple of times and laughed out loud once.

I don’t remember just what year I made the trip but it was before 2001 because I stayed at the Millennium Hotel, which was then brand new and was across the street from the World Trade Center. I got a deal - $199 a night.

One of my client’s employees was there as he was going to be deposed. We had breakfast in the morning and he was amazed at his $29 bacon and eggs.

We did his deposition and then I deposed the President of the bad guy company. We didn’t finish early enough to get a flight that night, so I got to stay another night in my luxurious walk-in closet. I planned to fly stand-by the next morning on the first Delta flight from Laguardia to Atlanta, about 7:00 a.m.

I had a wake-up at whatever time, showered, dressed and called down to get a bellman to come up as I had four or five boxes of documents. He had a South American dictator’s uniform on. Yes epaulets.

That’s the last of the story that Tony heard.

The bellman loaded the boxes and my shoulder bag on to the cart. I gave him $10, I’ve found you get better service if you tip ahead for these kind of services. It worked, as you will see.

When we got to the lobby I told him I needed to check out. “No problem Sir, I’ll be over by the door.” When I finished, I told him I needed a cab to the airport. He whistled for one. The cabby saw the boxes and popped the trunk, the bellman started to load them in. From nowhere, he started screaming at the cabby “Ya don’t throw the FUCKIN’ flag till ya put it in gear!”

I was getting in the car. I jerked my head back and looked at the bellman and then forward to the cabby who’d thrown the flag. Now in the grand scheme of things, throwing the flag would have gotten the cabbie what, an extra half a buck? I didn’t know they weren’t supposed to start the meter until they started. The bellman did.

The cabby feigned deafness. “Did you FUCKIN’ hear me? DID YA? Sir, would you mind getting out of the cab? I’ll get you in the next cab that isn’t driven by a FUCKIN’ MORON.”

This gets the cabby’s attention. He gets out of the cab and starts screaming at the bellman who screams back at him. The cabby is screaming a language that is not English. The bellman reverts to pure Brooklynese. Understanding is reached when the bellman starts to pull boxes from the trunk. With a final rhetorical flourish, the cabby gets in the cab and resets the meter.

“Yer FUCKIN’ right, ya zero that meter, ya MORON!” I gave the bellman another five, I’m not sure why. “There you go Sir, you are a true gentleman, have a good trip.”

The cabby pulled, shall we say quickly, onto the street and drove me into the just waking city. Parts of the city I’d never seen, that I’m not sure anyone has seen. All the while he yelled into his microphone in whatever his native language was. We drove and turned, drove and turned. It seemed to me that I was being taken to a warehouse for a ritual killing; and at times, my rational mind said we were moving in a northern direction and we were progressing to the airport.

Bear in mind, there aren’t any short buildings in lower Manhattan. All I saw at this time of the morning was gloom, garbage and steam, with a hint of sunlight eight or nine stories up.

Then we broke out and there was a bridge. Bridges are signs of civilization. We took the approach, got on the bridge and there in the distance was Laguardia. The cabby dropped me at Delta Departures. I paid him and tipped him. In perfect English he said “Thank you Sir, have a good flight.”

That’s it. Tony’d be saying he’s glad he didn’t have to sit through that.


s said...

HEY ! - TONY !
in case you're watching -
betcha didn't figure on a
"Seinfield " story

Debo Blue said...

Who knows, maybe he's laughing about the story.

Let's hope he is:-)

Posol'stvo the Medved said...


What *color* were the epaulets?

Anonymous said...

It's the epaulets that make the story.

It's the difference between saying "Four score and seven" and "eighty seven." Style is important.

(And it's the epaulets that keep people from noticing that you tipped a guy $15 to save fifty cents.)

Dave said...

No Thomas, it's the last $5 that bordered on dumb. Getting all of those boxes down twenty stories and into a cab, any cab, was worth it. I guess it was the equivalent of throwing money in the guitar case next to the musician on the corner.

The uniform was a dark scarlet, epaulets the same, all with gold trim.

DaleC said...

I figured the cabbie was taking the long way to get hi fifty cents back.... and then some.

Good story... would be even better in person after tipping back a few

Ron Davison said...

It held my attention. And the story around the story just made it better.

fermicat said...

Nothing wrong with your storytelling, Dave. And the others are right. The epaulets are essential to the story. You can't leave them out.