Working at a bar is a many splendored thing. My particular establishment, comfortably ensconced in the "Morningside Heights," or as some call it "White Harlem" area of the Upper West Side, is frequented by scores of Columbia University students on the weekends. As a bouncer, barback, bartender and Columbia grad myself, I've learned to love my regular conversations with everyone from neoconservative fratboys (i.e. "Love your fuckin' dreads, dude. Two White Russians, stat!") and pseudointellectual champagne socialists ("Red Sox games are the ultimate example of bourgeouis decadence. Um, Barkeep? Do you carry Veuve Cliquot?"
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In any case, since my bar attracts so many student types with disposable incomes, the crackheads zero in on the joints like, well, crackheads to crack. Or something like that. Some of the crackheads are pretty nice. Two of them in particular, Crackhead Slim and Trina, have been frequenting the Amsterdam Avenue begging circuit ever since I started bouncing in this bar three years ago. Other semi-regular fiends include Crackhead-who's-always-rocking-fly-gear, Crackhead-who-can't-get-a-metrocard-because-he-spent-all-his-dough-on-crack, Crackhead-with-the-bicycle, Crackhead-with-the-tricycle, and many others.
Anyway, as per usual on a Friday night, I'm checking ID's outside and I realize that my cell phone has fallen out of my pocket. Now, Crackhead Slim has been known to swipe aging electronics and try and pawn them on the street ("Yo, Dread, you play them Beta tapes? I got a VCR for you!"), so I ask him straight up if he's seen my phone. He tells me no, and I believe him. He disappears.
Now, I really don't give a shit about my cell phone. My piece of shit plan and my piece of shit company (Sprint PCS) essentially prohibit me from ever using my cell phone the 25 percent of time that I even get service. However, with 150 plus numbers stored in that phone, including more than a few hotties, I had to get this infernal phone back. Borrowing my friend's phone, I call my phone number. A voice reminiscent of Crackhead Slim's answers:
"Yo, what's good."
"Fam, you got my cell phone. I need it back. Can you bring it to 110th and Amsterdam?"
"What's the reward?"
Now I'm mad. "Reward. You took my fuckin' cell phone. Your reward? I'll give you a hug and I won't punch you in the face."
He hung up. I guess vinegar really doesn't catch flies. Crackhead Slim showed up five minutes later. I asked him if he had my cell phone, and he took grave offense to my implication that he would not only steal my cell phone, but lie about it. After about five minutes of painful haranguing (having a crackhead lecture you is really quite embarassing), he implores me to call the cell phone again to prove once and for all that it's not him.
I call again. This time a woman picks up. When you can tell that someone's on crack just because of their vocal inflection, they're on some real shit. Long story short, I make a deal with this crackhead woman. She's obviously scamming me, but I agree to pay $20 to get my cell phone back. Crackhead Slim and Trina overhear the conversation and, since they fear that paying her $20 is going to take away from whatever charity I might give them later that night, they're up in arms. They're encouraging me to rob this woman who's got my cell phone.
Half an hour later the woman shows up. Besides looking about eight months pregnant, she exhibits all the telltale signs of crack addiction: jitters, absent eyes, and extremely chapped lips. Standing across the street is the infamous Crackhead-with-the-bike, who'd been making a ruckus earlier. Fucker. He's the one who stole my phone and now he's sending this woman to get it back. After grudgingly paying her 20 dollars to get my cell phone back. Crack-head-with-the-bike runs across the street, screaming. Then Crackhead Slim and Trina start screaming at Crackhead-with-the-bike. Then, out of fucking NOWHERE, Crackhead-who's-always-rocking-fly-gear shows up and screaming at the others.
COMPLETE CRACKHEAD ACRIMONY (crackrimony?) ensues. Appparently Crackhead-with-the-bike agreed with Pregnant-crackhead-woman to split the proceeds from returning my stolen cell phone. After about ten minutes of trying to split these angry crackheads up. I break the $20 into two tens, tell Slim and Trina to heel, and send everyone on their way. Fuck. Now my boss is mad at me because he can hear the crackheads screaming from inside the bar.
After this fiasco, I do what any bar employee worth his or her salt would start doing after a stressful night. I start drinking heavily. Eight pint-glass-sized gin & tonics later, I'm completely trashed. Now comes the best part of my night: I get to ride the train back to my residence in Bed-Stuy.
I find out that the A is running express between 125th and 59th, so I can't jump on at 110th street. Instead I have to take the 1 down to 59th and switch to the A. Once I finally make it onto the A, it's about 6 in the morning. Exhausted from the preceding ridiculous evening. I fall asleep on the A train, missing my regular stop of Nostrand Avenue and waking up at Broad Channel, which as you might know, is about three stops away from FAR ROCKAWAY. Fuck. If that wasn't bad enough, while sleeping, my bag has fallen off of my lap, landed upside down on the train floor, and my $400 digital camera, which had most likely popped out of my bag, is now gone.
Beautiful. Fucking fabulous. Angry and groggy, I cross the platform to take the A train in the opposite direction. And what do you know? I fall asleep AGAIN. Where do I wake up? 59th street, RIGHT WHERE I FUCKING STARTED. This is not my night. I cross the platform again, and finally get off at my stop, Nostrand Avenue. I got on the train at 4:45am.
I got off at 9:45 am.
So if you came across a digital camera on the A train to Far Rockaway on Friday night (and you didn't sell it for crack), could you please return it? I'll give you a hug.
And I won't punch you in the face. Fuck.
this is in or around From UWS to Far Rockaway