Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
East Village: Country fried chicken for trolley watchers
Movie of life at 12th and Imp's snack gallery
At 12th and Imperial, switching from one trolley to another. Trouble is there's a third one gets in the way. Too late to jump through. Dang. Meantime my one goes. That's another fifteen minutes I've got to wait.
So I head to the A-Mart convenience snack place for, I swear, a snack.
Problem is that's where I meet Ron.
I'm guessing he's Chaldean.
"Dichiwoods," I say, practicing the Aramaic my buddy Wissam from another liquor store taught me. "How are you?"
"Randa!" he says. "Good!"
"Looking for a snack till the next trolley," I say.
"This is the food section," he says. "Lower shelf we microwave, upper, you wouldn't want to."
See what he means. It's all salads. The lower shelf has burgers, hot dogs, other stuff wrapped in plastic.
"Uh, happy hour's off today."
Ron has a sense of humor. Chaldeans seem to.
And then he's back serving the line of customers.
Problem is Ron's made me realize how hungry I am. Have to move quick. Go for the heatable shelf. Grab a "Big AZ." Next to the cheeseburgers. A Country Fried Chicken. Five bucks. And, what da heck, a fruit salad ($3.99). And, help it all down, a small coffee $1.25). About ten buckeroos in all.
Take it to the long narrow counter that looks out across the platforms so I can see when mine's coming, alongside other people waiting for their ride like me, plus trolley drivers, security guards, moms with kids clinging and whining.
Have to say, this is filling. Even the fruit salad would've been enough. And hey, it even has a slice of mango. I'm eating both plates at once, just for speed. The chicken sandwich is pretty huge. No fantastic flavor, but it does the job, specially when I put on the mustard and mayo and ketchup that Ron loaded me up with.
Bonus: All the while, you're watching the drama of humanity right outside. Little romances, big worries, loud laffs, like a movie at your table.
Uh oh. I hear the horn. That's mine. And hey, Ron's there, plastic bag in hand. I stuff my leftovers into it.
"Watch before you cross the tracks!" he warns.
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