The Ryan Report—Episode 419 "47 Seconds"
One of the things I like most about this job is the people I meet. Well, except when I'm dealing with criminals... and I guess that is most of the time. And usually when I'm not dealing with criminals, I'm dealing with suspects who are in to nasty enough stuff to seem like they could be criminals. Or I'm dealing with people who are grieving and through no fault of their own, they're not super fun to be around. So let me rephrase that: one of the things I like least about this job is the people I meet, but sometimes there are exceptions. Like West Side Wally.
Mr. Wally, West Side to his friends, is a character. If you saw him on the street you probably wouldn't trust him to tell you if it was raining, but he's come into our station a couple times now and has proven surprisingly helpful. That is not to say that just because he is... residentially challenged... his helpfulness should be surprising, but considering the fact that he is both residentially challenged and at least three-fourths out of his mind, it is pretty shocking that he is of any help to us at all. But he is. He has been instrumental in closing two key cases this year, but that isn't even the thing he's most useful for. That would be restaurant recommendations.
I know that may seems strange, but New York is a strange city. We have a lot of people, who have a lot of money, and who feel very guilty about it. Of course, there are probably more people who have a lot of money and feel nothing but joy about it, but there are some for whom it burns a hole in their very deep pockets. And a group that this is particularly true of is high-end restaurateurs. Maybe it's charging $8 for a $1 beer, maybe it's making people wait an hour for their reservation, maybe it's writing menus that require a thesaurus - whatever it is they feel the need to give back. And West Side is more than willing to take.
The idea of hitting up restaurants for leftovers isn't a new one. There are mom and pop eateries all over the city that'll open their doors (albeit back doors) to those less fortunate at the end of the night, but with those neighborhood dives, the turf is fairly competitive. One charming vagabond with open palms and a twinkle in his eye will evoke sympathy, but a herd of them will evoke 911 calls and chain link fences. In his early years, West Side went all over town, looking for openings at these places but then he had the bright idea to set his sights higher. Everyone thought the snobs at New York's fine dining establishments would electrify their chain link fences and club the hermits waiting for scraps with their ivory canes in lieu of 911 calls, but West Side thought better. He was wise to the rich guilt and he meant to take advantage of it. If their money was weighing down their conscience, then he was just the man to alleviate that burden.
Now, while everyone else jockeys for scraps outside the corner cabbage and corned beef restaurants, West Side has his pick of New York's finest restaurants. I'm not going to say which ones, West Side wouldn't want me to advertise his secrets, but let's just say that if you're thinking of a top of the line New York eatery - he's probably been there, and he probably has opinions on it.
It just goes to show - never underestimate people. West Side Wally is both a crime solver and a restaurant critic, yet you wouldn't know it to look at him. So, yeah, I may not like very many people I meet on this job, but I like at least one and that may be enough.