A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.


By Nina Pajak

Many in my life have referred to me as a fearful person. I suppose this could be interpreted as having some truth. I am generally not a trusting person, I watch too many crime dramas set in New York, I read awful, violent news stories almost pathologically, and I do suffer from a few phobias (sharks, bedbugs and vermin of all kinds, germs), but I think that’s all pretty normal. Who isn’t afraid of sharks? They’re man-eating, present-day dinosaurs! Seriously, get a grip.

Anyway, I prefer to think of myself instead as “well informed,” “cautious,” or even “vigilant.” And now three things have happened in the last few days that go straight to proving me right on all fronts. Here they are, in increasingly horrifying order.

Episode 1: Fine dining with rodents. Classification: Gag me with a spoon.

(credit: Facebook/Zabar's

(credit: Facebook/Zabar’s

This is actually a twofer. First, a passerby on the Upper East Side caught sight of a rat frolicking in the window of Eli Zabar’s E.A.T. gourmet food shop and took a video, which artfully included a zoom-in of the store’s “A” Health Department rating. If one imagines that this is the rat from Ratatouille, and that he was merely shopping for the following day’s food preparation at Le Bernardin and took great pains to wash his hands and select only the finest ingredients, then this scene becomes only marginally nauseating. But I think we can all admit that this is probably not the case. THEN, all the articles about the rat in E.A.T. referenced a previous video of a rat or mouse playing around in the olive bar at Fairway on the Upper West Side back in September, which I somehow missed entirely! And another of a rat zipping through the produce aisle! Thankfully, my pregnancy-induced nausea has kept me out of Fairway for the past few months, but there before the grace of God go I, and all that. No longer shall I listen when people tease me for being concerned about food cleanliness in this city. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The rats OWN this town.

Episode 2: Woman unknowingly walked around for weeks with brain leaking out of nose. Classification: Hypochondriac’s worst nightmare.

One of the stories circulating wildly yesterday was that of a woman who spent many weeks suffering from an extremely runny nose which wound up being copious amounts of brain fluid leaking out of her head. She’s fine now, so we can all laugh (or barf) about this, but . . . wha? And I thought I’d already considered all the various unlikely ways in which I might meet an untimely end. Now I’ve got to add brain juicing to the list. Actually, I’ve frequently referenced brains leaking out of one’s ear as a metaphorical problem (typically after playing Angry Birds or attempting to read through a corporate policy email). Turns out I was sort of close.

Subway Pushing Suspect

A surveillance image of the man wanted for allegedly pushing a man in front of a subway train in Midtown, killing him. (Credit: CBS 2)

Episode 3: Subway pushing is still (again) a thing we need to worry about. Classification: Sheer terror.

You’ve read about this by now. A reportedly mentally disturbed man was caught on camera arguing with a 58-year-old Elmhurst man, Ki-Suk Han, whom he then threw onto the tracks. Mr. Han was on the tracks for perhaps a full minute before an R train came and crushed him to death in front of a platform full of scaredy-cat onlookers who screamed and tried to stop the train but apparently were all physically incapable of either helping Mr. Han out of harm’s way or restraining the pusher, who remains at large. Excellent. Well done, all. Way to live up to all the truly repugnant stereotypes: the crazy man will push you onto the tracks, no one will help break up the fight before it gets out of hand, and witnesses will stand by while a man struggles for his life and a homicidal maniac quietly slips out the back. One man interviewed by CBS News even willingly admitted that Mr. Han was “still breathing” when he left the subway station. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? At least have the decency to know you ought to be ashamed for leaving a man alive and in imminent danger. Though I’m not sure standing and gawping at him is much better. No matter how you slice it, I’m sticking with my policy of standing as far from the yellow line as possible and never engaging in any sort of subway fight.

Watch & Listen LIVE