Recently I've been spending a bit of time in the downtown East Side-ish area. In fact I was just driving through the other day with my beloved friend Bo and we reminisced about our visit there about 4 years ago. My have things changed . . . slightly. It reminded me of the time . . .
Three of us went for a delightful meal at Save-On-Meats. (Picture it, winter 2006 pre-gentrification of the Woodwards area) At first glance it had a quaint yet authentic delicatessen feel to it (but with a hint of mange and an air of morgue) Various bits of raw meat, from lamb neck to fake crab tempura were nestled behind hand print smeared glass. Past the ‘deli’ was the bakery which consisted of mini jelly rolls and 3 flavours of stale wafers. I think there was also some leftover x-mas fudge wrapped in dingy saran and displayed in a mildewy basket. Beyond the trailer park patisserie was a ‘restaurant’, complete with regulars. Three horseshoe shaped counters faced an open ‘kitchen’ which allowed the diners to view the griddle as well as a particularly delectable grease trap, which was no more than tinfoil spilling out of the aforementioned griddle and into a bucket.
That was fine and good, sanitary and all that. We were digging the ambience like dirt. Bo, JonJon and I sat down and ordered identical meals. Cheese burger and fries with a coronary on the side. As our food arrived we became more and more aware of the dude (who’s name we later found out was Ray) at the far end of the counter. He was most definitely strung out. Just how strung out was only apparent when his head flopped into his eggs(gagging). I can’t remember if it was our waitress who tried to wake him or if he miraculously did it on his own. All I know is he was face down in the eggs within two minutes of their descent in front of him, and now our Waitress was trying to establish whether or not he was conscious. JonJon and Bo easily managed to scarf down their burgers and I got about halfway through mine but was prepared to throw it all back up at a moments notice as my love for eggs blossomed by the second. Waitress somehow propped Ray up and was very concerned. I’m sure by now an ambulance or something had been called but Waitress was bound and determined to get to the bottom of this guy's damage. During Ray's routine in his plate he managed to attach a large blob of runny yolk to his eyebrow and there was some sort of congealed matter dangling off his sunglasses. JonJon said something to the effect of it being lucky he was wearing glasses cause it’s like snorkelling in a plate of breakfast. As I was dry heaving 2 medics showed up to escort the guy out. Oh Ray. (zany laughter and head shaking)
The great thing about these paramedics was the first thing they did when they got in the establishment. They put on rubber gloves, complete with flamboyant snapping of surgical rubber. This concerned us for one reason. Our compassionate waitress had been attending to Ray with bare grease covered helping hands. Hands that she served us with. Hands that brought us not only ketchup, cutlery and napkins but our burgers. Hands that poked at Ray’s crusty face, tapped Ray’s clammy hands and pulled at Ray’s tattered jacket. As we drove home (amazed to find the vehicle with unbroken windows and license plates intact) there was a suggestion from the back seat “I’ve managed to avoid hep C for 30 years up until now . . . say, instead of dessert lets all go get inoculated!”