Friday, September 01, 2006

33 Percent Chump

SO, last night, I’m hurrying out of work. I want to buy stamps if the post office is still open, I want to buy shoelaces because this morning the skin shed off the laces of my right shoe as I tried to tie it, and I want to catch my—

Smash!

I bump into this guy, a little hand-against-hand jostle, and just my luck, I knock a brown bag with a bottle in it out of his hand. I say “I’m sorry man,” and go to pick up the bottle, but it’s smashed and leaking all over the sidewalk.

“I don’t want your sorry, I want a new bottle,” he says. This guy’s a black man in his mid-to late forties, and he’s angry.

I don’t know what he’s drinking – it didn’t look like a beer, but it was a small bottle, maybe one of those little Jack Daniels drinks or a wine cooler, if they still make them. I ask him how much it was and he says “This is the good stuff -- four dollars.” I really do feel bad about getting between this guy and his snooter. So I look in my wallet and I’ve got a twenty and two singles.

“I’ve got two I can give you,” I say, but he’s having none of it.

“Two won’t buy me a new bottle,” he says.

“Look, man, I’ve gotta catch a train,” I say, offering him the two again.

“I’ll walk with you, and you’ll get me one,” he says, and he starts barreling down the street in my direction. At first he wants to go to this card and candy shop on Madison that I didn’t know sold liquor, but then we head over to a lottery ticket stand. I decide to get some change so I can give him four bucks and be quit of him.

And.

Some.

Guy.

Is.

Buying.

Every.

Lottery.

Ticket.

In.

New York.

I swear, it was like he was cornering the market on Powerball. If the only money in the kitty is yours, pal, it’s not winning, it’s just a bank.

So the guy, as impatient as I am, shouts “Anybody got change for a twenty?” I turn to a woman waiting in line – this guy’s making her as uncomfortable as he’s making me – and she looks through her money. “I’ve got $19.95.”

“Deal,” I say, handing her the twenty. I take her money, count out four singles for Drinky McSlipperyhands, and head off on my—

“Hey!” he shouts. “Four dollars ain’t gonna cut it!”

“You said it was four dollars,” I argue.

“I said it was twelve dollars,” he says. “It was the good stuff.” Which is bullshit, top to bottom.

“It was also half empty,” I say. “You’re getting four or nothing. Be happy with it. Because This Is Not My Problem.”

And I give him the four bucks, and he goes his way and I go mine. I’m a four-dollar chump, but there’s no way I’m gonna be a twelve-dollar chump.

Rob

4 comments:

Lobbyist said...

Was it the same guy who sold you concert tickets out of his underwear?

That is why you should always watch where you are going ;-)

Rob S. said...

Hey, those were good seats, boxers or no.

Jeri said...

Man, that is the oldest con in the book. Did he challenge you to a game of Three-Card Monte while he was at it?

Rob S. said...

I know. I am filled with shame.