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How honest and trusting are New Yorkers?: The unattended fruit stand test
How honest are people in New York City? What happens when a vendor leaves his fruit stand unattended for at least thirty minutes after the Macy's Thanksgiving parade? Gadling knows because Gadling was there.
Not long after watching the last gigantic helium balloon and Santa Claus travel on down 7th Avenue with his hearty "Ho! Ho! Hos from our vantage point on 57th Street across from Carnegie Music Hall, we headed towards Broadway. A fruit stand had our name on it. The smooth skinned ripe mangoes and persimmons called out to us "Buy." The bananas bought there earlier by this Gadling writer's husband after he found a spot to park the car had already been eaten.
The vendor, however, was nowhere in sight. Not to the left, not to the right. The only witness to his existence were the rows of fruit--the packages of strawberries and blueberries, the bananas bagged in four to a bunch, the piles of apples, glossy and unblemished in the company of tropical fruits looking as if they had been just picked. A beautiful stand with beautiful prices-- the best ever.
But no vendor. "He said he'd be here," said the Gadling husband, who grabbed a plastic bag to gather some bounty and await the vendor's return.
A man stopped for two bananas. "How much?" At four for $1, he handed the Gadling husband 50 cents.
"I'm not the vendor," Gadling husband said, "but, I'll give him the money when he gets back."
"How much for the mangoes?" a woman asked holding up two.
"Three dollars." With the sign clearly marked at $1.50 a piece, the math wasn't hard. "I'm not the vendor, though," Gadling husband said. "If you want, I'll give him the money when he gets back."
She handed over the three dollars and headed off with her mangoes.
Still no vendor.
Gadling husband decided to go get the car and come back. Hopefully, by that time, so would the vendor. He handed the $3.50 and the bag of fruit to this Gadling writer.
This Gadling writer began to wonder if this was a Candid Camera stunt to see just how honest she was. Would she leave with the money and the bag of fruit or stay around for heaven knows how long? How honest was she anyway?
The vendor was still AWOL. There was a man with his son in a stroller though. "Where's the vendor?" he asked.
"Don't know," said this Gadling writer. "We've been here awhile." Craning her neck to look around the stand and across the street, she added, "I don't even know what he looks like."
"He's a Pakistani or something. He's here every day. Nice guy. Do you want a banana?" the man asked his son. He didn't give the banana to his son, though, but continued to wait.
A woman came with her dog to join the man, the son, and this Gadling writer who, along with her daughter, wondered if they would ever be able to leave this fruit stand.
"Where's the vendor?" asked the woman, picking up a package of strawberries.
"He's gone somewhere," said this Gadling writer. "I haven't seen him."
"I bet he's getting change. He does that sometimes."
The man left with his son saying, "I'll have to come back."
"Happy Thanksgiving," everyone said.
Still no vendor, but no husband either. Where was that car parked anyway?
The woman smiled.
Then, about the time the idea of tucking the money under a bunch of bananas seemed like a brilliant idea, a youngish man--a nice looking youngish man with lush black hair and a wonderful smile came running up.
Yes, there is an escape from this Manhattan street corner.
"My husband sold some fruit for you. Two bananas and two mangoes," this Gadling writer said. "He's the big guy who was here before,"
"Thanks, so much," he said, tucking the money in his jacket pocket.
As this Gadling writer paid him what was owed for the fruit in the bag, he added two bananas into the bounty.
"Happy Thanksgiving," everyone said about the time this Gadling writer's husband pulled the car around the corner.
If you ever wonder just how honest people can be in New York City, consider this. Fruit stand vendors, at least this one anyway, can leave a stand unattended to go get change and know that his customers are watching his back.
In the half hour that Gadling waited at this stand, dozens of people passed by and no one looked as if he or she planned to take a swipe at the fruit.
**If you click on the first photo, you'll see that it's a video of people passing buy another fruit stand in Manhattan.
If you click on the photo by Ed Yourdon, you'll find out information about the person behind the hand--a snippet of the life of the fruit vendor in Yourdon's Manhattan neighborhood.