This was not your typical New York City mugging that one thinks about when you hear the term ‘mugging’. Although we rode the subways, walked in the alleys, and hung out on street corners, this robbery took place in The Stage Delicatessen over breakfast.
All week the doormen, bell hops, and Concierge had been spot on for every breakfast venture we took. Our final day in NYC we decided to grab a quick bite right across the street from our hotel, the Sheraton Towers on 7th & 53rd, before we headed to the airport.
From the street it was very inviting as neon lights beckoned ‘Stage Deli’ and pictures of stars patronizing the establishment were posted. The smell of coffee and potatoes wafted out the door onto the street in an inviting manner. These wonderful smells were soon blended with fabulous others as we entered the trap.
Stereotypes of New Yorkers always tend to portray the natives as rude, obnoxious, and arrogant folks. All week we were treated as guests, patrons, and on occasion – as friends. On this our last meal in the city, we found the reason for the stereotype in our lovely waitress.
Wishing to be politically correct here, I don’t want to say the biddy was old, so I’ll just say that she didn’t think William Shakespeare was really going to make it as a playwright when she first heard his stuff. We’ll call this lovely young Shakespearean woman Ms. Kate – an untamed shrew – for the rest of this story.
Ms. Kate greeted us with a pleasant grunt as we entered the door. She rasped out, “This way”, and headed off to the back corner of the restaurant. I stopped and asked if we could be seated in the window seats which of course were empty. Ms. Kate muttered something under her breath that I’m sure this blog should not post, and I was thankful that Nattie did not hear to repeat!
My wish was granted and Ms. Kate had us all seated in the window. She promptly dealt out the menus like an experienced blackjack dealer from Atlantic City, and in that soft sweet velvety voice (imagine if you will, the sound of a three pack a day for 50 year smoker crossed with an angry chainsaw on hardwood), “Whaddya want a drink?” With our drink orders in hand, Ms. Kate marched off to the kitchen leaving us to examine the menu.
The Stage Deli is a New York City icon. It has celebrity status with the likes of Adam Sandler, Dolly Parton, Martin Short, and many more. In the 1950’s Mickey Mantle and other Yankee’s players shared a room above the deli that they often frequented. The menu boasted star’s names posted with their favorite dishes and the menu was not lacking of items. It took us quite a while, much to the chagrin of Ms. Kate, to decide what we wanted to order.
Once we decided on our breakfast choices and began placing our order with our talented Ms. Kate, it seemed that she suddenly became hard of hearing. She was obviously not acquainted to the dialect of the southern states. Ms. Kate had to repeat and correct our order several times before she finally seemed to have it in her bonnet and shuffled off to the kitchen again.
Oh, did I mention how I about had my head taken off for requesting some Splenda for my coffee? You would have thought that I had slapped the Queen of England across the face and she was a palace guard! (Had to get the Royal Wedding action keyed in as this was the day royally betrothed sealed the deal) When Ms. Kate returned with three small packets of Splenda, I was certainly happy that I had not asked for a steak knife! I never knew you could SLAM a packet of Splenda.
When our food arrived it looked and smelled wonderful. Stephanie had the eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast, which originally started as her order for an egg bagel in the ordering confusion. Nat-Nat had the French toast, and I had the Bilini (potato pancake), a Cheese blintz, and Corned-Beef with an easy over egg on top.
Ms. Kate was very fond of her java juice(coffee) rarely sharing it with the patrons of the deli, and when she did it was ever so sparingly shared. Yes, I had to request the Splenda EACH time she shared the java to much under the breath grumbling and continued slamming of the precious little packets.
It was toward the end that I thought I would be kind to my lovely bride of twenty five years, and ask Ms. Kate for a FULL refill of my coffee and a to-go cup. This was extreme considering the previous antics of Ms. Kate, and the fact that I am not that large a coffee fan. I love my wife so, as Ms. Kate was shuffling back to the kitchen with another poor soul’s order, I asked her of my request. There was no acknowledgement of my request, or my existence from our darling Ms. Kate. She dropped the bill on to the table and kept shuffling back.
I decided it would be best to take on the line at Starbuck’s for my bride a cup of coffee. Oh heck! It would be better for me to flap my own arms all the way to Seattle for her a cup of Starbuck’s than to ask Ms. Kate again, so I prepared to pay the bill.
Upon turning the bill over and examining the little extra add on’s from the hearing impaired Ms. Kate that I realized we had been mugged! Breakfast for three at $58!?!?!?! Not to mention that the service… well the service was memorable to say the least. I lay my money with tip, (I’m not heartless – usually) on the table as we prepared to leave. As I was getting out of my seat a hand pressed me back into my seat. It was not a hard push or a belligerent shove, but a gentle “where you going bub?” kind of press.
I turned to see Ms. Kate with a pot of coffee and a to-go cup. She said, “Where are you going? I know what I heard and someone over here wanted more coffee!”. She poured my coffee in my cup left the to-go cup and lid on the table, and then….
She SLAMMED my Splenda on the table.
True story. J