You can’t live to your twenties without surviving a few awkward moments–especially if you live in New York City. BTR staffers cull their strangest social encounters from what proved to be a nearly bottomless pool, so bottomless, in fact, that this is part one, with part two of more ridiculous stories to follow tomorrow!
I worked in restaurants for 10 straight years, and let me tell you, there are some very, very strange people that go out to eat in this world. But out of all the random fits of sobbing, tips left entirely in change (we hate you so much, by the way), or cocktails sent back because they “taste too much like alcohol,” no story will ever match the day I found someone sleeping in the emergency exit stairway at the private dining club I worked at.
I came in for the morning shift at 8:30, opened the door to said exit, and there he was, lying in a pile of aprons. Here’s the kicker–this guy was dressed in a fancy suit, clean-shaved, with a slick haircut. Not really sure what to do, I said loudly “are you ok?” and he woke up instantly. He disentangled himself from the mess of clothes, rose, looked me straight in the eye, and asked if I had any coffee.
“Sure,” I said.
So I brewed a pot while he took a seat at the bar, and then gave him a cup which he drank in silence while I set up the dining room. Neither of us said a word. Then he slapped $20 on the bar top, stood up, bowed to me, and left; never to darken our doorstep (or fire exit stairway) again.
As a college student in Orlando, I was once dragged by my reiki-master mother to Cassadega, a kooky spiritualist camp in central Florida. Cassadega is a tiny village full of so-called psychics, fortune tellers, tarot readers, crystal healers, etc. Picture daily drum circles and a lot of people with hair down to their knees, wearing psychedelic clothing.
Upon entering the camp, you feel as though you’re in the middle of an episode of Supernatural. I was honestly terrified that I would be abducted in the forest by a group of cannibals. Of course, my fears weren’t actually confirmed until a woman in a crystal shop explained (completely unprompted, by the way) that I had multiple ghosts following me, “in anticipation of something…hm…I don’t think it’s good.”
I definitely don’t believe in any of that ghostly stuff, but still; who says that to a terrified teenager? I sat in the car for the remainder of the day, probably escaping a brush with woodland cannibals. Guess the ghosts eventually picked a new victim to stalk.
During one of my visits to NYC years ago, some friends and I encountered a man in a train station that was skipping his way down the platform while whistling at the top of his lungs. I don’t mean he was simply being obnoxious and whistling his favorite tune as he merrily scooted past us–he was skipping across the platform like he belonged in a production of The Wizard of Oz, creating a deafening, screeching noise as though he were a 19th century locomotive.
His shrieking pierced our eardrums like a thousand pieces of chalk all hitting a blackboard incorrectly at the same time. One of my friends made the terrible mistake of muttering something under his breath, and the sequence of events which unfolded thereafter shall remain burned into my memory as a reminder to never, ever, apply the standards of social convention to those who clearly live outside of them.
The whistling man turned and began screaming a combination of incoherent threats mixed with insights into his personal background–namely, that he had spent ten years in prison and was happy to go back whenever they would have him. He then unzipped his pants, exposed his genitals and began back-peddling through the station as he screamed “NOOOOOOO!”over and over, at the top of his lungs, until he finally turned a corner and was out of our lives forever.
Feature photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley of Creative Commons Flickr.