Scammed!

Filed under holidays don't suck for me, living in new york sucks so hard, my uber-confrontational personality

All New Yorkers are assholes, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Case in point: on Monday afternoon, Dr. Boyfriend and I celebrated Memorial Day with an entire pitcher of sangria on the patio of Dos Caminos. Because sangria is from the Spanish meaning bloody, and there’s no better way to mourn the loss of all our fallen combat soldiers than to drink fruit-filled blood in remembrance of them. Or something.

So anyway, we left the restaurant and walked toward Rockefeller Center, where he was going to work for a couple of hours while I went shopping. On the way, we decided to stop at an ice cream truck and continue mourning the loss of all our fallen combat soldiers by eating . . . frozen milk. Whatever. At the intersection right outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, there were two trucks with identical markings parked across the street from one another, so we just sidled up to the first one without bothering to do any bargain comparisons.

A 30-ish, Israeli-ish, purposely-bald guy stepped up to the window inside the truck but went about not paying attention to us while he talked on his cellphone to someone about his gambling debts. At least that’s what Kamran tells me he was talking about. I, of course, was too busy trying to decide between cone and cup to notice. But long after I’d chosen, he was still on his phone. Had we been basically anyone else, we probably would’ve walked across the street to the other truck at that point, but it was a holiday, and we’re patient people.

Finally, the guy took my order: one scoop of vanilla in a cone with multicolored sprinkles for Kamran and one scoop of vanilla in a cup with multicolored sprinkles for me. He even showed me the cup to see if it was to my liking. He didn’t tell us how much it was but just waited for his money, so I handed him a $10 bill. (Kamran had paid for lunch, for those of you non-feminists who may be crying foul at this moment.) He took it, disappeared into the depths of the truck, and then came back and said, “That’s it. $6 for the cone, and $4 for the cup.” Bewildered, I said thank you and made way for the person behind me to order.

But two steps later, Kamran and I turned to each other to ask, “What the hell just happened?!” The cone he’d gotten was this kind, the soft serve kind, the kind you can get at McDonald’s for $1. The kind you can buy from any other ice cream truck, from even the most expensive truck at Coney Island on the hottest day of the year with all the sprinkles you could ever hope for, for no more than $2.50. And yet I’d just paid $6.

I was torn between being pissed off at him for thinking I was some tourist who doesn’t know how much ice cream costs and pissed off at myself for looking like some tourist who doesn’t know how much ice cream costs. I was pissed off that he had put black electrical tape over all of the prices on the side of his truck so he could charge whatever he wanted and was getting away with it. I wanted to march back to the truck and put on my mean New Yorker face and splatter my cup of vanilla all over his designer graphic t-shirt.

But I didn’t, because not only do I not have gambling debts to pay off like he apparently does, but it was also the best ice cream truck ice cream I’ve ever had. (And that includes the gourmet Van Leeuwen ice cream truck ice cream I had last summer.) Maybe it’s one of those things where paying more for it makes it taste better, but maybe it really was $10 ice cream.

What I’m left wondering, though, is: what would’ve happened had I handed him just $5 instead? Would he have demanded more, and what would I have done?

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14 Comments

  1. Jack says:

    I do hate it when I do something that could have me mistaken for a tourist, like looking at the subway map for too long. Real New Yorkers don’t look at the map even if it means that they’ll end up getting lost in the Bronx.

    But yeah, I’m sure the only reason you thought the ice cream was the best you ever had was to subconsciously prevent you from attacking the ice cream truck guy.

    • What I always hear is that real New Yorkers look at the map posted on the wall of the train car, while tourists carry their own maps. Not that you’d know anything about needing to look at a subway map, since you and your Staten Island hair and your BlackBerry Bold drive everywhere.

      In the back of my mind, I’m still considering going back and smashing that guy’s head into the side of his truck. I evidently took his scamming so personally that I think he remembers me and is fearing the moment I’ll come back for retribution.

    • natalie says:

      for the record, i’d like to say that out of the millions of people who call nyc home, a MINUTE fraction are native new yorkers. all those uber chics playin’ at being native are really from podunkyville, ks or something. give unto me a break.

      everyone in nyc is too busy trying to look cool and act native and it makes me CRAZY. but what the hell do i know? i’m only a B&T (bridge and tunnel) in my own defense, my dad is an honest-to-god, native ny’er, so that counts for something…)

      • A friend once told me that you’re a New Yorker once you’ve lived here for ten years. Of course, this was a friend who had lived here for eleven years, so maybe her judgement was a bit biased.

        Other than when I’m trying to scare ice cream vendors with my nasty face, I want it to be obvious from everyone that I’m not from here. I’ve never met a native New Yorker who I’d call nice.

  2. Tracey says:

    I amazed it still tasted good after all that. If anything, paying more for something makes it taste worse to me. Now if it had been free or something, I would have thought it was the best ever.

    Instead of marching back up to him to demand an explanation, you should have gone over to the other truck to tell THAT guy, so that he could advertise based on his clean-running business.

    • You know how much I like my $115 dinners. I’m exactly the sort of person those celebrity-cheffed restaurants prey on. Put a bunch of cow intestines that you bought from my dad for 20 cents on the menu and call them gourmet, and I’m the first one in line to shell out half my month’s salary. I appreciate that you’re around to call me an idiot when I tell you these things, though.

      I really wish I’d stopped at the other truck to see if he was running the same racket. You have to assume that they’re smart enough to get in cahoots together, right?

  3. Kelly says:

    OK, it’s official: I am never allowed to tour New York City again without Katie Ett. I read this, and I swear to God, my first thought was, “Godd–n! Ice cream is EXPENSIVE in New York!”

    Sigh.

    • Even if I know how much something should cost, though, I still suck at haggling. With the ice cream, I know exactly where else I can get it for the right price, but like, I was in Union Square the other day and saw a woman making headbands like this for $20. I wanted to buy one for my sister but didn’t think they were worth more than $5 (everything should be $5, in my opinion), but the woman kept offering me two for $25, one for $15, complete crap like that, and when I started to walk away like they tell you to, she just let me go. Headbandless 4 lyfe!

      But yes, we should tour NYC together and lament how Midwestern we are.

      • 1. Those headbands are super tacky, I’ll make your sister a nice classy one for much cheaper. (plus you can get a real fancy one at anthro for $20 or on etsy)
        2. I believe I paid $3.50 for a chocolate dipped in chocolate earlier this month from Mr. Softie. I thought this was highway robbery considering it is the approximate cost of a graeter’s or Jeni’s cone which is 1000x the taste.
        3. as a (albeit new) new yorker I like to think I would have bitched at him or made a scene to make him look like an asshole so that the people in line go to the truck on the other side of the street. (who am I kidding, I’d walk away nicely too, stupid Ohioans and their pleasant demeanor)

        • 1. I knew I could get them for Urban Outfitters for $20, but I really wanted to buy one off the street for cheaper. What’s the point of living in NYC if not to buy things off the street?!

          2. I try not to ever think about Graeter’s or Jeni’s while living here. I saw the other day for the first time that we have Emack and Bolio’s, which is a start, but I go home now purely for the Graeter’s and not at all to see my family and friends.

          3. If I’d had a moment to think about it, I know I would’ve made a scene. But that guy was a fast talker and made sure I got out of the way for the next customer, which I’m sure is part of the scam.

          4. You should actually take to updating your blog. A+.

  4. spaghedeity says:

    but it was also the best ice cream truck ice cream I’ve ever had.

    No it wasn’t. Not only were you scammed by a purposely-bald ice-cream vendor; you were scammed by a classic case of cognitive dissonance. “I feel so stupid for buying this stupid ice-cream cone.” [FIVE MINUTES LATER] “Jesus, this ice-cream cone was totally worth the almost-price of a sundae at Serendipity.”

    • Cognitive dissonance is totally a gift from Jesus, right? Had I not rationalized that $6 ice cream cone, I probably would’ve killed myself right there in the middle of Old Navy ten minutes later.

  5. Even though you live in NY you still have the tourist (NO Fuss, DO NOT create a scene, I don’t live in NY so I actually have money in my bank account) mentality.

    Everyone I know would have started the conversation after he said $6 and $4 is $10 like this: “You know what Mutha Fuc#er you take this $6 ice cream back and shove it up your A$$!! Give me my $6 back were gonna share this $4 ice cream cup…You Filthy Son of A Bytch!”

    And that would have solved the problem…But hey what do I know; I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY.