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Open 24 hours*

I would like to share some information which may potentially be useful to people living in this neighborhood in the future.

In most places I have been, if a business claims to be open 24 hours, it means that you can transact business at any time, day or night. Often in the wee hours of the morning, you may have only one person running the place or be otherwise inconvenienced, but actually doing business is not hindered. On days which this is not the case notification is prominently placed on points of entry.

Today I realized that in Bed-Stuy, this is not what is meant by ‘Open 24 hours’.

Most of the places in the area surrounding my block close pretty early, but a few convenience stores claim to be open 24 hours a day. Today I put myself in the unfortunate situation of testing this claim. Sadly for me it turned out to be false.

At around 4:15 AM I went looking for an ATM. I had called a car to take me to the airport at 4:30 (I’m writing this on the plane going back to Texas for Christmas) from Myrtle Car service, but I had spent the last of the cash I had on me a few hours earlier. I think that when I arrived at the yuppie mothership around 2:00 my bodega of choice was still open. At that point I assumed I could get some cash out of the ATM just before the car arrived and all would be set. I went to open the door to find that sadly, it was locked. At this point I sprinted to the other end of the block to check the other stores which also claimed to be open 24 hours. They weren’t open either. So I ran back to the first one just to see if anyone was in there, and I saw a cashier counting money, but I determined he wasn’t opening up at this hour.

Then the hue of my fortune changed. I was approached by ‘Tiger’ who had seen me running around like a chicken with my head cut off. He was a really nice beggar who said that in life you have to take it easy and calm down once in a while. He then proceeded to lead me through a breathing exercise. I wasn’t terribly frustrated, and I only half-heartedly did what he said (the car had just pulled up so I needed to check with the driver about finding an ATM), but I really appreciate what he was trying to do. Whenever you feel anxious or frantic, breathing helps. A lot.

After the breathing, he told me his obligatory sad story with the faint scent of beer on his breath. He indicated that he was recently laid off, gets nagged by his wife and has four kids. Clearly this combination is not easy to manage financially. His knowledge of methods of finding inner peace was beginning to make sense.

But, we both knew the score, he wanted money and I am an easy mark. But unlike most other people I meet that fit this description, he wanted to help me and actually had information that I needed — the location of an available ATM.

He was very exuberant and helped me with my bags. I packed light, but just the same it’s the thought that counts. Incidentally the Myrtle Car service driver was cool with taking me to an ATM to get the cash I needed, so there will be no need for running around crazy-like next time. Tiger got in with the driver and me and directed us to the nearby gas station’s ATM. Now my fortune seemed to be brightening, the ATM was working. The driver offered to give me some change and I gave Tiger some dough and he went through the also-obligatory thanking Jesus for my “generosity”. Tiger is a nice guy and lives in the neighborhood and he told me that I will see him around more often. That’s fine by me.

After this, the cab driver told me that he too resided nearby and that having a good report with men like Tiger was a good thing. He also mentioned that there were fewer bad guys around these days. I then enjoyed light mariachi music all the way to the airport.

So what did I learn?

  • 24 hours should come with an asterisk on nearby shops.
  • The gas station is open 24 hours.
  • The Myrtle Car service is great and operates at a consistently high quality 24 hours
  • Don’t spend all your cash two hours before going to the airport, nimrod.

I hope this helps you in the future when you are in Bed-Stuy at four in the morning, in need of cash and not fortunate enough to run into Tiger.

Merry Christmas Internet. Merry Christmas Tiger.