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.

And wait

And 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?

“Nice dog.”

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.

The vendor.

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.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade balloons: Where to see them inflate and balloon history facts

Starting this afternoon and on into tonight the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade character balloons will be inflated at Central Park West and Columbus Avenue on 77th and 81st Streets. The public is able to watch the process between 3:00 and 10:00 p.m. From what I’ve read, arrive closer to the end to get the balloons’ full effects.

The balloons, that take trained volunteers to safely maneuver them along the parade route without injuring parade goers or damaging buildings, have been a Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition since 1927. Here are 10 balloon history facts from the parade history page of the Macy’s website and at the website of The Band of Blue.

Also, I found a detailed video of the balloons being inflated. The video gives a clear idea about just how big these balloons are and the hubbub that is involved in the process of making them parade worthy. My favorite spot is of the police officer getting another officer to take her picture in front of one of them.

  1. After the first parade in 1927, the balloons were released.
  2. When the balloons reached the skyline they burst with a bang.
  3. In 1928, the balloons were redesigned to last for several days. They also had labels on them so people who found them could return them for a reward.
  4. Mickey Mouse first appeared in the parade in 1934 and was the parade’s first joint effort with Walt Disney Productions.
  5. Between 1942 and 1944, balloons were deflated and given to the war effort. Their rubber was needed.
  6. In 1957, it rained so much that Popeye’s hat filled with water and kept dumping water on parade-goers.
  7. In 1958, due to a helium shortage, balloons were inflated with air and hung from cranes and pulled.
  8. In 2005, the M &Ms balloon crashed into a light post during the parade. The falling debris injured two sisters.
  9. Spider man is 78 feet long making this balloon the longest of them.
  10. Snoopy is the character who has appeared in various forms the most–six in all.

Where did you head to this Thanksgiving?

More than likely, the turkey bones from yesterday’s dinner are now in a dumpster somewhere. Perhaps, you’ve made turkey soup already or some sort of casserole for tonight’s dinner. Maybe you’re pondering jumping into the shopping frenzy.

If you went home for the holidays–or you’ve ditched your family all together for a vacation at some spiffy location, hopefully, everyone will get back to where he or she needs to by the end of the weekend. Unless, you will still be on vacation. Good for you.

I’m kind of curious about where everyone went. I stayed home and invited people over. As I watched part of the Macy’s Parade on TV this morning, I thought that from the look of the crowd, there’s a lot of people who headed to New York City for the weekend. The streets are packed. Some folks are New Yorkers, but certainly most aren’t. You can’t really see the parade all that well unless you go early. From what I’ve experienced, many New Yorkers just as soon watch the parade on TV. This photo was taken at this year’s parade by typho and posted on Flickr. See the crowds?, also curious about people’s Thanksgiving habits, has a feature “Escape the Family” where people are leaving comments about where they are spending the holiday. Mexico, Florida, Prague, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are a few of the places. This is one resource for getting ideas for next year.

Oh, before I forget, did you know that Roto-Rootor’s busiest day is the day after Thanksgiving? That’s the #1 drain unclogging business in America.