For a number of years I patronized a Halal food stand located on Whitehall Street just a few steps away from The Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Manhattan. I always enjoyed not only the food but also the friendly banter of the nighttime server, a cheerful young man who lives not far away from my own residence on the northern tip of Staten Island.
But since last Saturday, I will have to satisfy my food cravings elsewhere.
My wife and I were on our way home and decided to make a stop at the stand, where we always bought chicken gyros. We noticed a bald man shouting in Arabic to the server inside the cart. The server, who I have casually known for quite some time, did not talk back to the man at all, and when I asked who the person was, he ashamedly said it was his boss – the owner of the cart.
Said owner, who seems to be in his late 40s, made no attempt to stop his shouting in our presence. He gave me a dirty look after I asked about the screaming, which prompted me to remark that he wasn’t being a very good businessman by behaving like that in front of paying customers.
Next thing I know, the owner came from around the stand and started shouting expletives at me because he was offended by what I’d said. He immediately called me a mother**** and that he was going to kick me in the a**. I told him not to raise his voice and act like a human being, but it was to no avail. I raised my hand to ask him to quiet down, but then he screamed “Don’t touch me” and continued to spout offending words in a machine gun-like manner.
As people started to intervene to break up a potential fistfight, I turned around and headed for the hotdog stand inside the terminal, while enduring shouts of “mother*** er” as I walked away.
As a twelve-year resident of New York, I have had my share of grumpy waiters and ticked off restaurant workers, but I have never had so much verbal abuse hurled at me because of a simple remark. No matter what that individual was going through on a personal level, nothing gives him the right to verbally assault a customer like he did that evening.
Someone told me that he might have been stressed out due to the day-long fast that Muslims follow during Ramadan. I do think, however that is no excuse. I am really respectful of other peoples’ religions, but being observant does not give you the right to misbehave in public.
There is no excuse for this person’s behavior towards me, and I believe that this would be grounds to have his street vendor’s license revoked until he learns that you need to have simple manners in order to run a business that deals with people.