Category Archives: guilt

Christmas Eve, 2008

Today at 1:39 PM, the Great Recession finally reached me.

No, I didn’t lose my job. I lost a half-eaten roll that was sitting on the bar at the Bar Room of the Oyster Bar in Grand Central.

A homeless man walked through the seasonal crowd, spotted my roll, made a Citizen’s Appropriation and kept walking. The bartender, a young woman, watched in horror. “What the hell are you doing?” she asked him.

“Eating a roll” he answered logically as he sauntered out and into the Terminal.

“I’m so sorry,” she said to me, mortified, and then proceeded to put a fresh basket of bread in front of me.

Then it was my turn to be mortified. Mortified that I was feasting on oysters when this guy stole my roll. Mortified that I didn’t run after him and offer to buy him lunch. Mortified most of all that I still had an appetite when all was said and done.

It’s the season of giving, and giving takes many forms. The Talmud distinguishes 10 different kinds, and rank-orders them to boot. I don’t know enough about my own religion, or the one that celebrates Christmas, to know if inadvertent giving even counts.