I was just about to bite into a sausage and egg sandwich at my regular breakfast bodega joint when who should grab the seat next to me at one of the makeshift tables, but my good friend and fellow journalist, “Hollering” Harry.
“I’ve had it with that Dennis Walcott,” said Harry, tearing up the plastic spout on his container of coffee.
“You mean the city’s new schools chancellor? But he’s only been on the job a couple weeks.”
“I don’t care. The guy doesn’t have the qualifications to head the nation’s largest public school system. I wish Bloomberg would look for someone with real qualifications like Chicago’s new Mayor Rahm Emanuel is doing.”
“Tsk, tsk, Harry. Give the guy a chance.”
Harry smirked. “Don’t tell me you’re like the rest of the New York media – gushing and getting all gooey-eyed over Dennis Walcott.”
“I did read that New York Times piece that started with how Walcott’s friends affectionately call him, ‘Dirt’.”
Harry took a gulp of coffee. “Them Times scribes are pansies. It took three reporters to write that fluff.”
“Well, the article did point out that Dennis Walcott once saved crack babies. And that he’s a product of public schools as are his children and grandchildren.”
“Okay. I get it. Walcott’s a real boy scout, but I’m skeptical.” And what really has my reporter’s antennas up is that little stint of his making waffles for public school kids the first week he became chancellor.
“Officials always do stuff like that, Harry. Besides, what’s wrong with waffles?”
I took a gulp of my own coffee and eyed Harry wearily.
“Waffles are elitist?”
Harry turned the brim of his funky reporter’s hat up, raised an eyebrow and motioned towards my sandwich..
“Tell me. What are you having there for breakfast, partner?”
“Why, err, a sausage and egg sandwich.”
“My point exactly. A sausage and egg sandwich. You ever find waffles at corner bodegas?”
I scratched my head. “Okay. I’ll give you that. I’ve never seen waffles served at corner bodegas.”
“I’m telling you waffles are symbolic of everything that’s wrong with City Hall and the Department of Education. Everybody’s waffling about laying off teachers and starting charter schools. They are too busy reinventing the wheel instead of fixing public schools. And the media covering the Bloomberg Administration is waffling because the reporters at City Hall are upwardly mobile. They aren’t going to bite the mayor’s hand knowing their next high-paying job might be at Bloomberg News.”
“You may have a point, Harry, but I still think you’re wrong about waffles. They’re like pancakes, but crispier. They soak up butter and syrup like a sponge.”
Harry gulped down the rest of his coffee.
“A word of advice, partner,” he said, getting up to leave. “Stick to the sausage and eggs. The last thing we need is another reporter eating waffles.”