The Pope has left town, which clears the roadways a bit but taxi-drivers all over New York are still grumbling. Not only is the UN in town, which ties up the east side from Albany to Sao Paolo, Obama will be in the city today for a one-on-one confab with the shirtless wonder, Vladimir Putin.
My driver this morning was spitting nails. To him the leader of the free world, the leader of the non-free world and the leader of one-billion Catholics were all conspiring against him, all working in some sort of cosmic conspiracy to slow down traffic and make it hard for a guy--a guy with kids and a family at that--to make a living.
Add to that the fact that he has sciatica and it's pretty obvious that something's rotten in the state of Egypt, which is where he emigrated from seven years ago,
The Jewish doctor from Maimonides in Brooklyn wants to take an MRI because, well, his entire left side is crippled with pain.
"You're probably doing the thing that is worst for you," I offered. "Sitting all day is no good for you."
"You sit at a desk or in a taxi, what are you supposed to do?" He countered. "My Jewish doctor, he is a good man, tells me that every two hours I have to park my car and take a 10-15 minute walk."
I commiserated. "I had sciatica a few years back. It's debilitating."
"You had the MRI? You had the surgery?"
"No," I answered. "I started walking more, started wearing better shoes and over time, it's seemed to have abated. I only feel it now when I am stressed."
"Stress," he said with the wisdom of Solomon.
We drove in silence for a few blocks and then he said, "On Friday I was on 34th and Fifth. I was stuck there for 40 minutes as the Pope drove by. His car was as far away as that white one." He pointed to a Ford LTD just a few cars ahead of ours.
"My passenger climbed into the front seat to see better. I said 'you don't need tickets to see the Pope in Central Park, he is right here.'"
"I'm sorry I missed him," I laconicked.
We had reached the little Puerto Rican deli where I pick up my second cup of dark brown water they call coffee. It's not a great place, the coffee is lousy and it's none too clean, but I like the guy behind the counter who always takes me in front of the UPS drivers and construction workers getting their big breakfast orders. He also always laughs at my jokes, which I usually pull from "The New York Post," which is in a rack adjacent to the linoleum counter.
I said to the counterman, "You made the Pope an egg sandwich?"
He laughed at that as I knew he would.
"Next time," he answered bagging my java. "Next time."