Climbing out of the subway at 74th Street, you might get worried that there's been some kind of industrial accident. People on the street are dressed in white from head to toe, with white construction helmets and space-agy metal tanks on their backs... What are they doing? Did the Crazy Chicken have a fuel spill? Was there an empanada meltdown at Mario's Bean Palace?
But wait that vital 30 seconds that it takes to adjust from the subway to street-level, and you'll see that those wierd metal tanks are coffee urns -- still a little disturbing in a surrealistic way but not immediately alarming. After a week or two of wondering what it was all about, Ellen and I got a cup from one of the coffee squads tonight, on 37th Ave. and 76th. Not bad coffee, though not particularly better than at, say, La Uruguaya. After a bit of language-barrier wrangling we got them to understand we wanted a business card, and they gave us one. Apparently they work for Coffe [sic] Export Inc., on Woodside Ave. and 71st. Why they are carrying coffee around on their backs and selling it on the street -- that will have to remain a mystery for now.