Blow Me, Bagel Boy.

by Jen on January 19, 2012

While I was in Ohio, I ran in to a Kroeger to fetch a small cup of coffee to put in the mocha icing Casey and I were making.  An equally chubby and bubbly woman greeted me with a smile from behind the tiny Starbucks inside the grocery store.

“I’m needing about a half cup of coffee for a recipe.  Do you have anything smaller than a “tall”?  I asked.

“Certainly!” She smiled.  “How about a “short”?”


She filled the cup with steaming coffee, asked about what I was making, joked that I should bring her a bite when I was finished, and sent me on my way.

When I got back in the car, I told Casey how friendly she’d been.

“It’s so refreshing when people just smile!”

And then I realized, I haven’t been met with many smiles in New York City.

People are jaded and inconvenienced.  Customer service?  Yeeeeaaah.  

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I thought New Yorkers got a bad rap.  It was as if hitting “publish” on that very post was like hitting the “Here I am, New York!  Be shitty to me!” button because ever since, I’ve dealt with dicks.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not every single day.  It’s not every single person.  But it does happen more often than it should.  I’ve tried several different approaches, but in the end, I have to admit that I’m just not much of a bad ass.  I think of all the things I shoulda said about three hours too late.  In the moment, I apologize like a kicked puppy and rush away, my ears a burnin’.  Makes me so damn mad.

Why does this keep happening?  Will it always be this way?  Or, will I one day have a hardened New York exterior and a cynical retort for my public humiliation?

I blame my face.  It looks naturally happy.  One of my friends says I’m expressive like Emma Stone, which I initially took as a total compliment, but am now cursing as it’s getting me bullied all over New York City.

You want examples?  I could give you three hundred, (and yes, I’ve only lived here for a month and a half) but I’m only going to give you a couple.

A shithead recruiter with a three foot tall stack of crumpled papers, a moldy sandwich, and a smooshed pack of Camels on his desk called me “sweetie” six times in a 15 minute interaction and also suggested I take a resume writing class.  His office smelled like pastrami and peppers.  He gave me a job description (written by his office) with three spelling errors in the first four sentences.  And I repeat, he was suggesting a resume writing class?!?!  Buddy, there are a million things in life I do poorly, but I can assure you, if you’d pick your dripping coffee cup and opened sugar packets off my resume and read the mother fucker, you’d retract your suggestion.  Also, stop telling me, “This ain’t Florida, sweetie”.  I’m about to kick you in the scrotum.

I left his office feeling dumb, defeated, and hopeless.  An hour later, anger took over my embarrassment, and I vowed to tell off the next New Yorker who “sweetie’d” me.


I had to return something at Victoria’s Secret.  Don’t get all excited.  It wasn’t anything sexy.  (Thank god.)  My George knows I’m a “sweats over sexy” girl all day, every day.  He’s a good man.  Anyway, on the way to Victoria’s Secret, I stopped by a highly recommended bagel place.  With high hopes, I ordered from Employee A (for Asshole) and went to the cooler in the back to grab a juice.  When I returned to the register, Employee B (for …. I can’t think of anything clever) asked me what he could get for me.  I told him I’d already ordered from Employee A but proceeded to tell him what I ordered so he could ring me up.  Big mistake, apparently.

Employee B came back to the register with my order.  I swiped my card just as Employee A approached with a second bagel.  He looked at me with disgust.

“Oh, I’m sorry!  I told Employee B I ordered from you.  I didn’t realize he made me a second bagel.”

Employee A smirks.

“You’re sorry?!?!?  SORRY???  Sorry doesn’t help pay for this second bagel.”

I stuttered.

“What do you expect me to do with this one?!?!?”

Thirty minutes after the fact, I had A TON of suggestions on what he could do with it, but in the moment, all I could muster was a pathetic apology.

Employee B told me not to worry about it and politely dismissed me in time for Employee A to chuck the second bagel in the trash like he was pitching for the Yankees.

I left feeling embarrassed for not being clear with Employee B.  I didn’t want to tell anyone what happened, as I’ve been in New York City for over a month.  I “should” have more backbone than this.  George would have a million quality responses for me, but I didn’t want him to know I was such a target for bullshit.

As with everything, I had all sorts of brilliant smart-assed comments up my sleeve once I got home.


But here’s the thing, I don’t WANT to be shitty.  To anyone.  I don’t want to grow such thick skin that I start acting like the dicks around me.  I want to live and breathe and gorge myself on New York City without ever acting like I’m from New York City.

I smile.  That’s who I am.  I’m not cynical.  I’m not unimpressed.  I’m not bored or inconvenienced or a bully.  In fact, I’m pretty easily amused.  I’m pretty easily impressed.  I’m wide-eyed and optimistic and compassionate.  I’m all sorts of good things that New York isn’t gonna beat out of me.  And, if I’m being completely honest, I’m really good at resume writing too.

Stick that in your Camels, “sweetie”.

I saw this video on-line today.  Seems to cover my experience in New York perfectly.  Check it.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 mamamash January 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm

No, no, no. You're not going to turn into a shitty person. But you do need to play the role in the little theatre production that is life in NYC.

That guy with the Camels? Call out his typo-riddled job description, then tell him maybe the cigarette smoke has clouded his judgment as well as his lungs.

Bagel boy? Tell him to shove that bagel in his special place. Then take big bite out of yours and smile.

Rudeness in NYC is like…like foreplay. It's how they weed out the wimps. You're so not a wimp.


2 Jen Has A Pen January 19, 2012 at 8:27 pm

You are smart. I'm stealing the foreplay analogy. It's so true. I compared it to boot camp today when I was talking to my grandma. It's like they've got to beat you down to make sure you are worthy or something. I read a blog post the other day talking about how New York really is like an abusive boyfriend you can't stop loving. I think it may be true. Like, abuse, abuse, abuse… then out of this world honeymoon phases. No matter how many people are dicks, I still love it. Writing about the negatives are sometimes hard for me because I feel like I'm tattling on my mom or something.


3 kimberly rae January 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm

ahh! i can relate to this so much! the perfect example for me is when running. when i go running in florida every single person i run past says good morning, good afternoon or good evening or at the very LEAST smiles in my direction. i realized a couple visits in after id been living in NY that i was looking like a total asshole ignoring people as i was running by. then i remembered to turn off my *new york attitude* as my parents dub it when im back in florida. it is INSANE how much more friendly people are. im not sure why it's like this in NYC, i dont think most people are just outright rude (unless you count my students, your recruiter or bagel boy) but its more like complete indifference! and speaking as one bubbly/happy girl to another, i think its possible to live here w/o turning into a d*head. you do develop a thicker skin, but it doesnt mean you start punching everyone who walks in your way.

on a side note – OMG, LOVE that shit new yorkers say! felipe posted it on my wall today! i can relate to everything except the snobs who walk around talking about the new yorker/times/gothamist/etc. but ive definitely said, "i dont DO brooklyn" on at least 40 occasions. and "where's the train?!" OMG! story of my life!


4 Jen Has A Pen January 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

You are right. Grocery shopping in Ohio was such a sampling of how few and far between "nice" is here. I swear to you, if I get trapped in a Food Emporium line again because two A-holes in front of me want me to wait while they observe every nutritional fact on the backs of each type of macaroni and cheese, I might throw my backpack at 'em. It's like they don't even see me. Bastards.

I thought that video was awesome because even in my short stint here, I've started saying some of those things. So funny!


5 Penny January 20, 2012 at 9:35 am

Love that video…and I am also in love with Pat Kiernan.


6 Jen Has A Pen January 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I wasn't sure who he was before the video. Shhh. Don't let anyone else in New York find that out! 🙂 I had to google him.


7 The Blog Entourage January 20, 2012 at 10:20 am

Aw:(. Well, that's how I am too…I mean smiling even when employees are rude. I think sometimes that's the problem. When I moved to the east coast I learned to just be short and to the point with people…especially the obnoxious people who are trying to sell something. Whenever my friends visit they always complain about the rude drivers and service workers, and I'm always like "Huh? I didn't notice." I guess I've gotten used to it, but now I'm self-concious that maybe I've become rude too! I hope not!_I can totally relate to what kimberly said. I've gotten in the habit of not stopping to say to everyone like i used to in Oklahoma. Everyone is so busy and in a hurry on the east coast that it's almost more rude to stop and be nice. Then I go back to OK and I feel like "why are all these strangers smiling at me and talking to me???" They must think I'm rude.:(_Well, hang in there. It's never gonna be as nice as middle America, but you'll find some nice people amidst all the jerks!



8 Jen Has A Pen January 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

You are from Oklahoma? I'm from Kansas! 🙂 Nothing like the manners there. George and I went to the OSU/FSU football game in 2010 and people in Oklahoma were so nice. I don't think manners in the south compare to the midwest.

I'm going to try a new approach to this whole "rude" thing. Maybe I will one day be able to blow it off and find humor in it. For now, it makes me wanna hide. 🙂


9 alison January 20, 2012 at 10:26 am

I think this makes me a twinge sad, like if (when) I ever visit NYC, I feel like I'm going to get eaten alive. You might get a bit snarkier, but I don't think you're going to be so calloused by their bad attitudes that it's going to change who you are. And at the very least? It makes for good blog fodder. 🙂


10 Jen Has A Pen January 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm

In the first two visits to NYC (before moving here) I didn't experience that at all. I experienced people not making eye contact, but not being rude to be rude. So hopefully, it's something that doesn't happen all over the city. Maybe my neighborhood is shittier than other parts? Ha!


11 letmestartbysaying January 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Listen. That bagel guy is some angry asshole BAGEL GUY who's taking his shizz out on some nice-faced newbie. Ignore him. May a rat piss on his shoe on his train ride home.

As for the recruiter? He's an idiot. I met one salami-smelling recruiter when I moved here & started working in the city. The others knew what they were doing. The more you get paid the more they get paid, so the smart ones do you right.

As far as people being rude in general, people are just so used to being all up in each others' faces, that you get short and quick…almost as if to not take up any more time/space of each other as possible. No beating around the bush, just get-to-the-point.

It's also a numbers game. You run into a gagillion people a nanosecond in NYC. You're bound to meet more jerks than you're used to, simply based on headcount alone. But that also means there's a lot more awesome people. Be patient, and they will come.


12 Andrea February 3, 2012 at 9:28 am

Just watched the video and it was hilarious. Thanks for sharing and alerting me to the sh!t my former peeps say. 😉

Seriously, tho, and I know this is an oldish post and I promise I am not stalking your blog today – I'm just seriously homesick and I puffy heart you now – you're fine, you will be fine and all NYers are NOT like that a$$hold bagel dude. I'm the chick that every tourist asked for directions and I stopped and helped them. I'm also the good NYer who will take their picture and then tell them to not just hand their camera over to just anyone. :>


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