I need to take a vow of silence between the hours of 5 and 8 a.m. Sadly, for the world, it happens to be my chattiest time.
I’m wide-awake, well rested, with a kilo of coffee in my system that makes me Bert Parks in shorts and a hoodie.
I’m on the corner of 84th and Lexington buying my daily banana from Paco, the fruit vendor who’s setting up shop, when I spot a garbage truck double-parked not ten feet from me. There’s a young man standing next to it while the thing idles loudly, I notice, not wearing his gloves…something you’re supposed to do to protect yourself from God knows what, you’re picking up.
Me and my banana mosey over and say ever so maternally, “Where are your gloves young man? You should put them on.”
He turns right and left before realizing, I’m addressing him.
“WHAT? YOU THINK I’M COLLECTIN GABAGE?”
“Well aren’t you?”
“I’M THE CANTALOUPE MAN LADY.”
We try our best to backpedal.
“I’m sorry, I just thought since you’re standing so close to the truck…and I only meant well. Wouldn’t want you getting germs you know.”
“SAY WHAT?…YOU THINK I’M A GABAGE MAN!”
“Well not anymore, and I was worried about you, thinking you could get sick.”
“DO I LOOK LIKE THE GABAGE MAN TO YOU?” Actually he did, just not as clean as the average one. Paco told me, the stains on his clothes were the result of squashed fruit.
“Ah,” said the early morning busybody.
But this guy was like a dog with a bone (or cantaloupe) not budging an inch.
I finally knew when I was beat. “Look, I’m really sorry. The last thing I meant to do was offend you. Will you accept my apology…please?”
He thought about this for a second while Paco, who stopped stacking grapes, stood next to me like an attorney.
“Yeah, yeah…I guess so.”
As I was turning to leave he said, “Hey lady, you wanna cantaloupe?” (only in New York folks)
“I’d love one (I didn’t really but, when a peace pipe is offered one must be polite)…
but can it be small, so it fits inside my purse?”