A Very Brief Essay on Peanut Allergies and Cocaine

Originally posted on Blogspot 10/9/17

I recently asked a homeless man on the A train if he had a peanut allergy before offering him the rest of an entire container of dark chocolate covered peanuts.

Which seems like a very courteous thing to do.  

And I am nothing if not courteous.

But apparently it is a stupid question to ask a person who is begging for food on the A train.  Because apparently, as it turns out, a person who is begging for food on the A train just wants to eat some food.  Hives be damned.

Several people were kind enough to help enlighten me on this issue.  For example, a man beside me wearing flip flops (MAN FLOPS, if you will–a detail I would be remiss not to include) treated me to some grade A side-eye underneath the uni-brow he had clearly tried (and failed) to trim earlier that day.  And if there is one thing I hate more than man flops and haphazardly trimmed uni-brows, it’s side-eye.  

Side-eye is passive aggressive.  I, Jesse P, promise you that if I ever have the urge to give you side-eye, I will do you the courtesy of just BLATANTLY GIVING YOU A DIRTY LOOK.

Because I am nothing if not courteous.

The second indicator was an audible laugh from somewhere in the peanut gallery (GET IT?  DO YOU GET WHY IT’S SO FUNNY THAT I SAID PEANUT GALLERY?)

And you know what?  I can take a lot.  I get a lot of smirks on the A train.  A short white blonde with an uneven bob and giant pink sunglasses is bound to stand out a little bit in Washington Heights.  But don’t laugh at me and my peanuts.  That’s uncalled for and it is certainly not courteous…

The third indicator was the look on the face of the homeless man himself.  

And okay, folks, I get it.  Blondie may have come across as a naïve little Priss whose mommy cut the crusts off her sandwiches (SHE DIDN’T—CAROLYN), and has clearly never been so hungry that she’s had to ask for food on the A train (although the peanuts in question were my dinner).

But you know what?  What if he DID have a peanut allergy?  And by trying to help him, I KILLED HIM?  

Yes, I am aware that he could probably read the label.  But as a FOOD SERVICE PROFESSIONAL it is my JOB to ask about allergies and sometimes it just comes out…and it IS possible that he couldn’t read (in all fairness, one could argue that I, myself, cannot read, as earlier that day when I tried one of the dark chocolate covered peanuts in question, I thought to myself this dark chocolate covered raisin tastes funny…)  

I don’t know!  I don’t know this man’s life!  All I know is I was trying to be nice.  Genuinely.  Not just because I feel guilty about my hatred of the man who wants money for holding the door open at the 183rd street station and gets mad at me for just opening a different door for myself.  (Courteous of him, you may be thinking?  No, no.  This doesn’t count.  This man wants to ruin me).

No.  I thought to myself…I don’t need this container of dark chocolate covered peanuts that were supposed to be raisins.  Man flops and the peanut gallery are just ignoring him, and on many occasions I do the ignoring as well, but today I have something and goddammit, I NEED TO MAKE SURE HE DOESN’T HAVE A PEANUT ALLERGY.

An insignificant sacrifice, I’m aware…  

A day in the life, folks.  A day in the life.  I don’t know that I really have a point to this one.  Is it to give the homeless what you can and hope they read the labels???  Or maybe we should take food allergies more seriously???  Don’t wear man flops??? Carefully groom your uni-brow???

I’m just rolling with the punches here.

We’ll go with that.  


One minute you’re trying to help, and the next a homeless man sasses you about how of course he’s not allergic to peanuts! and snatches your dark-chocolate-covered-peanuts-dinner out of your hand.  

One minute you think you have dark chocolate covered raisins and they are really just dark chocolate covered peanuts and you are illiterate.  

One minute a guy wearing MAN FLOPS is giving you side eye, and the next a rich Chuck Bass-type wants to do cocaine off you, but doesn’t offer you any.

I would’ve politely declined the cocaine, of course.  But it would’ve been nice to be asked.  It would’ve been courteous.

And I am nothing if not courteous.


**PS.  Recently have been getting new messages and feedback from cancer survivors just discovering “Confessions of a Disgruntled Twenty-Something Cancer Survivor”.  THANK YOU for your kind words.  I hope you’ll continue to check out my writing here…and I’ll try not to wait four months before posting again.  I am forever grateful to people who read and enjoy my (weird) writing!

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