Dear Readers and Casual Viewers, excusez-moi, I shouldn’t write about tourists and the silly things they do while visiting the City. Some of my best friends are tourists… And what would we be without them? Granted it would be Business as Usual in Queens, the Bronx, most of Brooklyn, and Staten Island except for the ferry being less crowded. But, Manhattan would be a shell of its former self. 42nd Street Times Square would be empty and hundreds of costumed knock-offs of popular characters would be out of work and would have to look for local children to harass and scare the shit out of and hold hostage for a quick buck. I can’t even remember the last time I was outside at 42nd Street. I take the train there all the time, but that is underground and nowhere near all the chaos and deafening noise. I’m terribly claustrophobic. It took nearly a year before I was comfortable enough in the subways. Times Square, however, still sends a cold, tingly chill up my spine. This chill rests at the base of my brain and tells me that I should either have a panic attack or yell at random people for trivial offenses…

Right, anyway. The City survives off of tourism. Ask any cabbie when tourist season is and their answer is simple: It ends sometime in September and picks back up again later in September. A whooping 1-3 weeks out of the year isn’t tourist season here. In Manhattan (where you are more than 99.9% certain to run into a tourist), the MTA has even automated the announcements in the subway cars to be pleasant sounding people announcing all stops and that will politely ask you to stay away from the closing doors. Get two stops into Queens and all of a sudden it is an angry conductor screaming, “Let go of the fuckin’ door! You in the second car, let go of the goddamn door!” Because this is new New York as long as you are in Manhattan. But, as soon as you step outside of Manhattan, people aren’t as nice anymore and the chances of you getting robbed or stabbed have just doubled. Though, your chances of being ran over by a car or taxi are just as high no matter where you are in New York City.

Manhattan also has tourist prices. $16 matinee tickets to see a month old movie? Manhattan has it. $12 McDonald’s Value Meal? Manhattan has it. Stores with only three or four pairs of shoes that cost more than your car? Manhattan has it. Though, my last car only cost me $500. Which is also about the cost of parking your car for a month in a parking garage in Manhattan. Though, this is old news, Manhattan is also the home of the vendor selling $30 hot dogs. Or, it was… They fired the guy.

Ahmed Mohammed was fired for selling hot dogs and pretzels for anywhere between $10-$30. It all depended on how you looked. If you looked like a New Yorker to him, you probably got the normal price. If not, you might be forking over a bit more than that hot dog is really worth. Though, the normal price is about $2 at some places. That is already about a buck ninety over price. But the thing is, people did pay him. Not just one person out there but a couple were like, “Hey, I’m on vacation/rich as fuck and this is the Big City… $30 hot dog, that sounds about right.” Though, some declined and outright refused to pay as any normal human being would have done, too.

Ahmed Mohammed was fired after charging tourists $30 for hot dogs. Photo: Gabriella Bass

Ahmed Mohammed, New Yorker enough to do the New York thing of charging tourists $30 for hot dogs.
Photo: Gabriella Bass

And everyone was talking about this. This was Big News here. Hey, you hear about that guy selling $30 hot dogs? You’re damn right I did. What a joke. What was that guy thinking? Who the hell would shell out 30 bucks for a hot dog? Tourists, that’s who, amirite?

But, when you think about it, this guy was doing the most New York thing ever. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is picked by the Republican Party in the near future to run for Mayor or even Governor. I mean, come on, this is the City that has convinced people that a shitty studio apartment in a really shitty part of town costs $1,500 a month. And people gladly pay for it. Because it is all they can afford… There is always New Jersey if you are looking for something a little cheaper.

As my friend, Hazem, put it, “New York City is more of a Life Style than a Way of Life.”

Love as always,

Dr. Kurt D.