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April 24, 2003

Ode to My Deli Guy

I have a certain flight path on the way to work. Up Seventh Avenue, head east on 41st, walk through Bryant Park, passing by the sculpture of Gertrude Stein. Walk around the front of the library, glancing hellos at Patience & Fortitude, continue along 41st. Crossing Park Ave., I turn north and make a beeline for my deli, which is a few strides from the corner.

Deli Guy knows me on sight. He knows I want a garlic bagel, toasted, with plain cream cheese. Once he sees me and confirms this, I go and pay my $1.08 (which anybody knows is a steal), and come back with my brown paper bag, waiting for my order. He passes it to me, I sweetly say "thank you" and I'm on my way to the office.

Sometimes I go there for lunch, and Deli Guy knows what I want - genoa salami, muenster and onions on a roll, with mayo. When I do this on the same day that I get my bagel, it's a little embarrassing, but obviously not enough to deter me.

My deli is currently closed for renovation, and in the small scheme of things, it's rather like an earthquake. There are literally dozens of places within a few blocks of me that theoretically offer sustenance at various times of the day, yet I have had the damnedest time finding a place that can offer me a toasted garlic bagel with plain cream cheese. I have now tried six different places, only two of which offer garlic bagels. One, a bakery, won't toast them, I guess because they're so fresh. $1.50 and you can't toast my bagel, what the hell? The sixth place, a Delmonico's on Lex, does offer garlic bagels - H&H even (reputed as the best in NYC, although everybody naturally has their opinion). Finally, bliss, right? I thought I was imagining it, that maybe it was a fluke, but no - for the past three mornings I've been given an onion bagel instead of a garlic one. I don't find this out until I get to my desk, and by then I have neither the time nor inclination to go back outside and deal with this.

Now obviously I shouldn't have let it get to the third morning, but I don't want to be the archetypal in-your-face New Yorker. But why should I have to deal with this? Why can't the guy behind the counter tell the difference between an onion and garlic bagel? Am I going to have to check my order before I pay for it - or worse, ask to inspect my bagel before he even toasts it? I would rather find another place, except that I don't want to venture too far from the office and I shouldn't have to go to six places to find my bagel, goddamnit.

But what I really, really want is for my deli to reopen, and my Deli Guy to return. Is that too much for a girl to ask?

Yours, &c., LC | 12:17 PM |