Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dante's Inferno

This weekend, I went to visit a friend down in Southern New Jersey near Philadelphia and, as I don't own a car, I took the train from Newark, NJ down to where he lives.

A fine time was had by all and I ended up staying fairly late on Sunday - in order to grill out for dinner - and headed back to beautiful Jersey City on the 8 pm NJ Transit train back to Newark.

Now, as you may or may not know, I live in Journal Square in Jersey City which is a straight shot from Newark on the PATH subway line.

So, after I got off at Newark Penn Station, I jumped on the PATH and arrived at Journal Square at about 9:30 PM.

As I came up the escalator and began the walk home I was approached by this guy that was about 35 or so and was kind of what you may call an aging goomba.

"Excuse me, I locked my car keys in my car and I can't find a locksmith - do you know any around here?" [insert ay yo, oh ay Jersey accent], he asked.

"No, sorry", I replied. After I second, I suggested that he try the cops downstairs.

"No, they won't open the car because they say they can't accept that liability" he advised. He was obviously distressed and frustrated by his situation.

Now, this guy seemed, like, reasonably not crazy and well enough groomed so I thought for a second and said, "You know what? I can look up locksmiths on my phone in the area and I'll let you call one on my phone."

"Oh, that would be great! Thanks man, I've been stuck here for a while and no one will stop and they cops won't help and I live all the way in Parsippany."

"Not a problem", I assured. And it wasn't, I really was more than happy to help.

So I whipped out my phone opened up my Verizon Wireless Navigator and looked for "locksmith". Within seconds, more than a few locksmiths in the area were up on the screen.

I handed him the phone and said, "knock yourself out."

"Thanks, man. I really appreciate it. I'm Dante, by the way...what's your name?"

"The Notorious LJT."

"Well, thanks, Notorious LJT" he said as he dialed the the first locksmith.

I kind of hung out a few feet aways as he was calling locksmiths, not really listening or paying much attention.

"Fuck! They all want money up front or my credit card number, which I can't give them because it's locked in my car with my wallet. Shit, I don't know what to do. Let me try some more. Do you mind?"


Dante tried a few more but to no avail.

"Shit, well I guess I just have to break the window."

"Yeah, that sucks."

"Do you mind if I try a couple more?"

"No, go ahead."

He tried a few more. I still didn't really pay attention or give it any thought.

No luck. Dante was stuck and was no seeming to prepare himself to go through a brick through his car and was understandably stressed out.

Now, he seemed like a reasonably normal person and he didn't ask for anything so I decided I'd try to help this guy out. My mitzvah for the day, you could say.

"Well, how much do they want?", I asked.

"Fifty bucks and then another $150", he said.

"OK, I'll tell you what I'll lend you $50 and you can just come by my house and call me and I'll come out and get the money back when you get it straightened out in a little while."

"Oh, bro, that would be great man. I really appreciate it, I mean you don't have to do that."

"No, no, it's cool. You seem like an honest guy, I'd be happy to help you out. Just call the locksmith."

Dante called the locksmith.

"OK, now call yourself [also locked in the car] from my phone so you have my number".

He did.

"OK, well I'm on Notorious LJT Avenue down by the cemetary. The building with the lights on. Just call me when you're done and I'll come out and get the cash."

"Bro, seriously, you don't know how much I appreciate this. I'll hit you back, I'll give you $70 for your trouble."

"Thanks, but that's OK", I said.

"No, seriously, let me pay you."

"It's fine, really."

"No, I want to."

"Stop. I don't want any money - really", I said firmly.

"OK, OK."

"He told me to meet him down by Burger King and Montgomery", said Dante. This was a little weird because his car was stuck in the Journal Square garage and BK and Montgomery were a bit of a walk away.

"Why won't he just come here?", I asked.

"I don't know, he said he was doing another job there".

"OK, well, whatever."

So, we parted ways - Dante to BK and me to my condo.

Now, as I made my way home I felt pretty good. I realized there was a chance I would never hear from Dante again nor see that $50 but I felt there was a better than even chance I had just helped out some guy that was having a bad night when no one else would. I had done the right thing.

I got home at about 10 pm and by 11:30, I thought to myself "yeah, I guess I won't be hearing from Dante. I guess I got conned. Whatever, maybe he'll show up and in any case $50 isn't going to put me in the poor house. We'll see what happens."

A few minutes later the buzzer rang.

"Hello?", I asked through the intercom.



"It's Dante!"


"Hey man, whatsup? Everything work out OK?", I asked.

"Well, no. The guy came and couldn't get the car open because it's a new car and he had to call this other guy that he works with for a newer tool. I just didn't want you to think that I had lied to you and just taken the money."

"Oh, well thanks but you really didn't need to walk all the way here to tell me that."

(Now, I never told him my apartment but I guess he came in and just read my name on the buzzer.)

"Well, I just didn't want you to think I had just taken off. They'll be back in like thirty minutes."

"Oh, OK", I said. Now, pretty convinced that this guy wasn't a con artist. "Well, do you want to come in?"

"Yeah, if you don't mind."

"Sure, come on in and sit down for a second".

Dante came in and sat down and waxed poetic on his frustration at the situation. I felt his pain. I could only imagine how annoyed I'd be by this point in the situation.

We talked for a minute and I said, "do you want a beer or something?"


We each had a beer and shot the shit. Dante was from Parsippany but grew up in Clifton and had graduated from Clifton High in 1989.

Soon the beer was done and I suggested he should head back and he agreed.

"The only thing is, the new tool is $10 more upfront".

I handed over $20.

"Listen man, don't worry about coming back. You have my address now that you've been here. I'll write it down and you can just send me a check."


Dante left.

The buzzer rang - it was Dante.

"Hey, you said you were from Teaneck. Do you know a guy named bla bla bla?"

"No, I don't."

"Oh, OK."

Dante left.

The next day at work (Monday), I relayed the story to my friend Melanie who said "you're crazy and you're never going to see that money or Dante again."

"Yeah, well maybe but I think I will."

See Dante again, I did.

My doorbell rang that night at about 10:15 pm.




"Hey bro, whatsup man?"

"Dude, you didn't have to come by, I told you to just mail me the check."

"Well I wanted to give you the money in person."

"Oh, OK."

"But, you see. The thing is, I have this girl in the car outside. Well, she's not outside right now because she went by Walgreens up on Montgomery. But, anyway, I'm with this girl and, well.....do you drive?"

Now, Dante was definitely not sober and he was more than just drunk. He was on some kind of upper and seemed a little rabid. Not dangerous, I didn't think but certainly he was on some kind of drugs.

"Do I drive?"

"Why are you looking at me like I'm crazy?"

"I'm not."

"Yeah, do you drive?"

Now I had no idea where he was going with this but I knew I didn't want to go wherever that may be, much less drive Dante and his girlfriend there.

"Um, well yeah I can drive."

"See the thing is, well I've been drinking and I don't want to drive. And I left your money in my car in Hoboken."


"And well, why don't you come out with us for a little while and I'll make it worth your while."

"Um, thanks but I have to go to work tomorrow."

"I'll by you a few drinks."

"No, I'm good."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I have to get up early for work", I said.

"What time?", he asked.


"Yeah, me too."

There was silence as he contemplated the situation.

"Well the thing is I've got this girl with me and I want to take her to a hotel nearby and get freaky with her."

"Um, OK". This was getting really weird and I was beginning to get a little concerned. I just wanted Dante gone.

"Do you mind if I have some water?"

"Sure." I gave him some water.

"Yeah, well the thing is, like, the hotel on 1&9 is $95 for two hours and I only have $70 on me.....do you think....."

"Listen, man, I don't have any cash on me."


"Yeah, sorry."

"See the thing is" he explained, "I don't want to ask her to pay because I don't want to make her feel like a cheap whore."

"Yeah, well I just don't have any money on me."

"Ok, hmmm. Let me think......"

The wheels were churning.

"OK, OK, do you have a phonebook?"

"A phonebook?"


"Um, no."

"Shit! I need to find a hotel I can rent by the hour. Which ones are by here?"

"I really don't know any, man."

"Oh, come on! Of course you do!"

"No, really. I really don't."

"Dude, come on. You gotta know one." Dante was incredulous. How could I not know of any?

"No, sorry. I really don't know any."

We were at an impasse but I had my computer sitting on my coffee table and I wanted Dante out so I said, I can look some up on google for you.

Dante called a few places, but these were apparently upscale hourly hotel rentals. You had to rent at least three hours, not two.

"You know what? I should just fuck that bitch in my car."

"Yeah, you should", I agreed.


"Yeah, you really should."

"OK, well I'm gonnna go" he said, much to my relief.


"Hey, do you mind if I buy a couple of those beers off of you?", he asked.

"I thought you don't have any money?"

"Yeah, well I mean like when I pay you back."

"Oh, OK." I gave him two beers.

Dante thought for a minute. "Listen man, we should hang out. This girl is a freak and she's got a lot of dirty friends."

"Yeah, OK. Listen, don't worry about coming back to pay me back. Just send a check."

"No, no, I'll come back in like an hour and pay you back."

"No, really, you can just send a check."

"No, I'll be back."

"No, really it's OK."

"No, I'll be back in an hour."

"OK, man, have fun."

I opened the door and Dante left.

I would be more than happy to never see him or my $70 dollars again.


Side Bar said...

If this is true I am going to punch you in the face the next time I see you. I mean it. I am not even trying to be funny.

brandyismagic said...

Dude, this story exhausted me. I hope that you never see Dante again either.

ChuckJerry said...

Dude, how the fuck can you be such a misanthrope and simultaneously look for the best in people?

I draw the line at "you can use my phone to call". Of course I wouldn't have to draw that line because I never would have stopped walking in the first place.

I'm a proper misanthrope, you see.

Open Bar said...

I really hope you manage to avoid any emails from Nigerian princes.

ChuckJerry said...

"Well the thing is I've got this girl with me and I want to take her to a hotel nearby and get freaky with her."

"Um, OK". This was getting really weird and I was beginning to get a little concerned. I just wanted Dante gone.
Are you suggesting that it wasn't weird before this point?

EMT said...

Really?? WTF? Do you also know that there is no Santa Clause?!! Did you also set your oven mitt on fire the other night when cooking hot dogs? Seriously, you're lucky he didn't rob you and then shoot you when he realized there was nothing left to rob in your apartment! This story makes me sick.

Open Bar said...

Wow, EMTe, getting a little unnecessarily fired up there.

Also, re: "there is no Santa Clause," I think a certain Mr. Allen would beg to differ: http://tinyurl.com/c89h7z

Anonymous said...

What kind of a world do we live in? Man, you just can't trust guys you meet at 9:30 pm on a Sunday walking on the street in Jersey City anymore.

(Word verification: redrain. And it was in red writing!)

Side Bar said...

"Man, you just can't trust guys you meet at 9:30 pm on a Sunday walking on the street in Jersey City anymore."

Laughing my ass off.

WV: gasitic

ChuckJerry said...

Just for the record, I was going to put exactly the same comment re: The Santa Clause with the link and everything before the bell rang and I had to go to class.