Another post card from New York, dated one year ago tonight. The Carengie Deli, around midnight, September 22, 2008.
My image of New York was formed a hundred years ago when I was a kid and when I go into a place like this I expect the waiters to be elderly Jewish men in less than congenial moods. That night, though, the waiters were in rather cheerful moods---my waiter was positively jovial---and they were all young and middle-aged Asian men, except one. She was a middle-aged Haitian woman and she was in a foul mood. For good reason.
I was at the register paying my check when she strode up beside me. “They can all go back where they come from,” she said in a thickly accented, musical but angry voice. There wasn’t anybody at the register at the moment. I looked around but it was just the two of us waiting there. She was talking to me. I said, intelligently, “Oh?”
“Four dollar tip on a fifty dollar meal, and they supposed to be so rich.”
“Them Europeans. They rich. The exchange rate is that good for them now. They always over here t’rowing their money around. Four dollar! She can go back to England, the bitch. They like cheapskates like her over there.”
While she was talking the cashier came and took my money. The waitress saw I was ready to go.
“You like your food? What you have, dear?”
“Pastrami on rye,” I said. “It was terrific.” I wanted to add, “I left a tip. Twenty per cent!” What I said was, “I wish I had room for dessert.”
“That very nice, dear. You have a good trip home.” And she turned to the cashier. “Four dollar that English bitch left me! Can you believe it? She should go back where she from and good riddance!”