Making It Easy


The man in the gray suit careens out the glass door, nearly knocking over an elderly woman while screaming into his cell phone. “No, you tell that fucking bitch that if she wants a hostile work environment, I’ll give her a hostile work environment.”

Ding ding ding.

Richie tosses his cigarette to the ground, flips up the collar of his coat to protect against the bitter wind, and sets off down the sidewalk after the man in the gray suit.

The man is fleshy around the gut and thin in the upper arms and his hairline is marching backward. The kind of guy who hides behind a big voice, who probably isn’t actually game for a real fight.

Richie smiles. There’s potential here. And on the first try.

The man in the gray suit doesn’t look for a cab. Maybe he works nearby. It’s just after 9:30 a.m., in that twilight period when the sidewalks are empty, the morning rush getting settled at their desks with their coffee and scones.

Richie was never a big reader. Books are a pursuit best left to his nerdy brother. But every morning, Richie reads the newspaper. You never know when a good idea is going to land.

And just yesterday, Richie got a really good idea while flipping through the Daily News.

So good it might be brilliant.

New York City is in the middle of a housing crisis, in that if you don’t make at least six figures, you can’t really afford to live here anymore. So the mayor got this brilliant idea to give tax subsidies to developers, on the condition these developers build their fancy new apartment buildings with a selection of affordable units.

The man in the gray suit seems to be veering toward the entrance to the 1 train, but he doesn’t go down the steps. Good. He’s still screaming into his cell phone. “I wouldn’t count that as sexual harassment. I didn’t even touch her. Don’t you have to touch someone for it to be sexual harassment?”

So this deal between the mayor and the developers—everyone wins, right? The mayor looks good for making some apartments you don’t need to hock a kidney for, and developers get some extra cash to pad the budget.

Except, the moneyed folk, the people these fancy new apartments are marketed too, found out about this plan and got a touch upset.

How dare they be forced to share oxygen with people who don’t have trust funds? People who shop for groceries at the corner bodega instead of Whole Foods?

So the developers get their own brilliant idea, for something the tabloids have dubbed “poor doors.” Separate entrances for people living in the cheaper apartments, so the people paying market rate don’t have to share doorways and elevators.

In 2015, in New York City, this is a real thing that’s happening.

The man in the gray suit cuts down a side street, still yammering into his phone. “Then fire her. Find cause. Make something up. I don’t care. I don’t need this shit.”

Richie quickens his pace, and the man in the gray suit doesn’t hear Richie over the sound of his own voice. The block is just delivery bays and trucks. Nobody in sight. There’s an alcove coming up, created by a small service entrance, that looks perfect.

Here’s the brilliant idea that Richie had: If there’s a poor door, by default, there also must be a rich door.

It’s like the mayor and the developers conspired to make this easy.

Nothing sucks more than rolling some yuppie asshole and finding out the fancy suit was a façade and there was nothing but change and lint in his pockets.

The man in the gray suit though, he came out the rich door.

And as Richie comes up alongside him and body-checks him into the alcove of the doorway, as the man stiffens with fear and hands over his cell phone and a very thick wallet, Richie feels a little like Robin Hood.

Poor doors.

Maybe not such a brilliant idea after all.

~ fin ~

Rob Hart is the author of New Yorked, nominated for an Anthony Award for Best Novel, and City of Rose. His latest novel, South Village, is available now. His short fiction has been published in places like Thuglit, Needle, Helix, Joyland, and Shotgun Honey. Non-fiction has been published in The Daily Beast, Salon, The Literary Hub, and Electric Literature. Find him online at @robwhart and