There Is a Solution to the Street-Vendor Bowel Situation

By
Photo: nytimes.com

After the New York Post alerted us to the urinary problems of street vendors (the problem: They can't urinate), the New York Times decided to follow up on the, er, pressing issue. They sent young A.G. Sulzberger to find the most charming story he could that involved both a person who handles your food and newspapers, and bathroom breaks. He succeeded:

The friendship started in the way so many do in a fast-moving city of many strangers, with hellos offered in passing ... A mutual liking developed, which grew into trust. And with that, one Sunday several years ago, Syed Hashamali Quadri, the newsstand vendor, said he needed to go to the bathroom.

This is no small thing in the world of newspaper vendors, whose narrow domain is packed with goods like magazines, candy and cigarettes but offers no facilities. He asked the diamond dealer, Ralph Bar, whom Mr. Quadri had taken to calling “Uncle,” if he could watch the stand, at 86th Street and Lexington Avenue. Mr. Bar obliged. And so, in a city where morning cartoons, religious services, trendy brunch places, voluminous renderings of the day’s news and an extra few hours of sleep occupy most people on any given Sunday, the two men began a morning ritual of their own. Each Sunday, Mr. Bar stops by the newsstand on his morning walk. He buys Mr. Quadri breakfast and takes over the stand while Mr. Quadri goes to relieve himself.

Every other day of the week Quadri has other friends who sub in for him so he can take quick breaks. And here you thought that just having your morning newsstand guy know what papers you want made you a real New Yorker. Please, talk to us when you've sold a stack of $10.99 copies of Big Black Butt for the guy while he's peeing in the back of a Kennedy Fried Chicken.

The Relief Visitor: A Vendor Puts His Trust in a Friendly Stranger [NYT]
Earlier: New York Street Vendor Battles City, Bowels