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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Change for a Five Look, Delay and Dip

The Change for a Five Look, Delay and Dip
Practicing "The Look."
I commuted from New Jersey to New York City for most of forty years. There are a few things you have to learn to survive commuting to New York City.  You have to learn to make you own elbow room and squeeze your way onto a bus or subway.  You have to learn how to flip and fold a large newspaper into a small square that allows you to read without hanging the newspaper over another passenger. 
Ordering breakfast-to-go at any NYC deli in the morning takes technique.  There is always a large line, and you must know exactly what you are going to order when it is your turn.  If you pause, they will go to the next in line...there have been tourist known to starve to death as they could not get their order in fast enough.
Believe it or not, you also need to know how to receive change back on a purchase.  “What!” you say?  Let me explain.
Vendors in the city are masters at the “delayed change for a five look, delay and dip.” 
Here is how it works.  
Commuters are always in a hurry.  When they make a purchase, they want to grab their change and go as fast as possible.  They are also often thinking about work as they make their purchase.  NYC vendors take advantage of this.
When you are racing for your train, you give the news-stand dude a dollar and wait impatiently as he hands you your 75 cents change (I’m going back to when the Daily News was a quarter…I actually remember when it was 8 cents).  This was my routine every morning.  Every once and a while instead of a dollar, I had a fiver.  This is where the “delayed change for a five look, delay and dip” comes into play. 
The vendor takes the five-dollar bill and immediately hands you 75 cents, he always has piles of 75 cents at the ready to speed things along, he then looks at you without saying anything…it is a “yeah, anything else” kind of look.  He then slowly bends down and reaches for a pile of four dollar bills to complete the transaction.
Even the experienced commuter, in a hurry, thinking about work, when he gets the look,  just takes his 75 cents and leaves out of habit.  The vendor, thanks to the delay and dip, is not able to stop you.  When he arises from his dip with the four dollars, the hurried commuter is off to work.
I fell for the “delayed change for a five look, delay and dip” a lot.  I never even realized I got beat out of the four bucks until lunch when I needed the money and came up short.  The realization was followed by a palm to forehead smack and a one word expletive that starts with the “PH” sound.
You may ask, “Why not just return to the vendor the next day and explain that you failed to wait for your four dollars the day before?”
Welcome to New York City.


  1. This is the sort of thing that makes me always have the correct change for small things such as newspapers, in a separate pocket too, so I can just dip in there and come up with the correct coins in one go.
    Breakfast-to-go has me baffled. I know what it is and I know it's a big thing over there, along with breakfast at a diner. It's beginning to take hold here too I think. But I've rarely left the house without first having breakfast. The exception is usually because I'm fasting for a blood test. I'm a big fan of my home cooked porridge or scrambled eggs on toast or pancakes. If I have to get up earlier to be able to leave home with a full tummy and the dishes washed up and put away, that's what I'll do.

  2. For once, I am happy to live in a hick town where everyone walks and talks (and counts) slow.

  3. I can just hear, "Yes, I remember you; here's your four dollars, ma'am" in my dreams!!

  4. Good thing you weren't trying to break a $100 bill to buy a bottle of wine (or Pepsi) for a dinner party.

  5. I can see this happening to me in a rush to get where I need to go. I had to laugh about being ready to order for breakfast; I indeed would be like one of those tourists, I don't think I could get my order out quick enough, native New Yorkian or not. God forbid what would my BIL and SIL do. They have food allergies and ordering at a restaurant with them can be a painful experience when they ask what is in this, what is in that, and then have to think about what they can order. I guess this would take care of their food allergies; they would never get any food ordered in the first place.



  6. Thank you for lots of smiles!

    It happens here too on train station if we order for something they always wait for train to run and mostly keep all the change they had to return .
    I imagined the one who paused Haha

  7. I often will say, "Out of 20" or whatever bill I hand the clerk, just so there's no mistake.

  8. Times have changed (price of a paper) and not changed (human nature).

  9. Nice. Four bucks here, four bucks there, and pretty soon, you're dealing with real money!

  10. That's why I live in a small town and avoid the big cities. They smell better and the people are a lot nicer. Just saying.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  11. The one I've been hearing since in LA is "Do you want change?"...for instance you've just got a burger for 10 bucks and handed over a 20.

  12. Yet another reason to avoid the Evil City ;-)

  13. Oh now that is slick, makes you wonder how many times per day this actually works.

    I'd probably be one of those starving to death for not ordering quick enough.

  14. You account of ordering reminds me of the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld. As for the slow change guy, sure am glad I ignored the pull of the big city and stayed a hick.

  15. Another reason to be mindful, even while in a hurry.

  16. That's funny. Everyone has to make a living.

  17. must know exactly what you are going to order when it is your turn... <-- I was going to mention the Soup Nazi, too, but Patti beat me to it.

    1. The Soup Nazi was not a completely made up character.

  18. Wow NYC. I went back there to visit some friends who moved there from the bay area. I stayed a week with them, in Morristown New Jersey. As a west coast gal, I LOVED it. It's so different. The people, the smells. Anyway, one thing I wanted to do was ride a subway in commute. So we got on at Hobokem or near there and had to change cars a couple of times. I even got yelled at by some Jamaican woman, because I wasn't fast enough. It was funny to me.

    Some people say we Californian's are different and yes that is true but so are New Yorkers. It's like a totally different country than from where I come from in California. Like they say, I LOVE NY and I want to take my husband there, sometime soon.