Back on December 22, 1984, I saw an ad in the newspaper for a 13 inch colour TV for $68 at Crazy Eddie. The ad didn’t mention the brand. For those that don’t know, they are a now defunct electronics chain that had several locations in the NYC area. No one can forget the famous, or infamous commercials that used to say: CRAZY EDDIE!! HIS PRICES ARE INNNNSAAAAANEEEE!!! I read the find print that said there were x amount of TV’s per store. No surprise there. I decided to go to the Upper East Side location on Saturday morning. I walked to the local subway station and took the omnipresent Number 2 train to Franklin Avenue, and transferred to the 4 to 86th Street on the east side. As soon as I reached the street, the store was across the street, and there was a long line, so I hurried across and took my place at the end. I only had to wait less that 15 minutes until the store opened, and the line started moving. When my turn came, I asked about the TV, hoping and praying they still had some left. Alas, the sales clerk told me there were no more left. I left the store feeling dejected.
Later on, I learned that I was extremely lucky I did not get the TV. According to an article I had read about Eddie Antar, who created the Crazy Eddie chain, the stores often would not let customers leave until they bought something. I was a perfect candidate for the bait and switch scheme: I come to the store hoping to buy the TV on sale, the sales clerk says it is out of stock, but offer to sell me a bigger TV at a slightly higher price. The sales clerk never did that. But I would have declined the purchase anyway.
I believe I went to that location because it was an excuse to ride the Number 4 express, and I was a huge railfan. It was a bouncy ride up Lexington Avenue in the days before our accursed MTA installed timers to restrict train speeds in lieu of a wreck on the approach to the Williamsburg Bridge where one train rear ended another. The Union Square Wreck of 1991 only compounded the problem. Instead of bouncing like a rubber ball on a trampoline, the ride was slower and more sedate. Top speed must have been at least 40mph, as opposed to the days when it used to be 50mph.
As I was standing on the downtown platform waiting for the 4, there was an announcement over the PA system. In those days, it was notorious for having garbled messages, but this time I understood most of it. There was some kind of problem with a downtown 2 train at Chambers Street on the west side. I assumed it was a stalled train with mechanical problems, which was commonplace in the deferred maintenance era. No problem. I can take the 4 to Nevins Street and transfer for the 2.
My express came, and I reached Nevins Street with no problems. As soon as the doors opened, my Number 2 local train of red carriages was pulling in across the platform. Talk about good fortune. The doors opened, and it was crowded, which implied there was a large gap in service. I stepped on, the doors closed behind me a few seconds later, and off we went, with the whine of the A/C motors keeping me company.
As I was watching the news that night, the big story was the shooting aboard a subway train in Manhattan. “Subway Vigilante” Bernie Goetz shot four black men he claimed were attempting to rob him. I instantly flashed back to when I heard the announcement on the downtown platform that morning. Of course, they would never say there was a shooting on a train. There are different versions as to what happened. According to the version I read, the shooting happened when the train entered the 14th Street station. Mr. Goetz jumped down to the track bed and ran towards the Chambers Street station. I find that to be totally ridiculous! The train skips four local stops from 14th to Chambers on the middle track. Service on the line would have been stopped in both directions, and there’s no way he would be able to run all the way down to lower Manhattan from Midtown. Not when there is a 600 volt D.C. third rail next to the tracks. There must be more to the story that the media is either not reporting, or conspired to omit.
In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t get the TV. It never occurred to me that, even though it was a 13 inch TV, it would come in a big box, which would be heavy, and it would be bulky to handle on the train all by myself without a hand cart to strap it to. I would have been an easy target for muggers. I was a well seasoned subway rider who was always conscious of my surroundings. I already had my 19 inch black and white TV at home, but I wanted a colour TV, and the price was very reasonable. Fortunately, mom bought a Sharp 13 inch colour TV for me. I shalst never forget how we brought it home. It was strapped to a luggage cart that was repurposed as a dolly. It was a bit embarrassing lugging the TV up the steps onto the bus, but mom did not have a car, the bus was safer, and the bus stop was close to our apartment building.
The lesson here is do not beat yourself up if you do not always get what you want. Sometimes, there is a good reason for it. Just relax, and trust the universe. I got most of what I wanted thus far just by doing that. Your time will come. Sat Nam.