I just got back from my trip, and easily the strangest thing that happened to me occurred when I was walking down 23rd street in Manhattan with my friend Adam. A shady-looking character walked up to us — you know, the kind of guy who usually opens his jacket to reveal a dozen dangling Rolexes — only this guy was hawking something different.

Extension cords.

He had two of them — a white one and a brown one — both neatly coiled in his wrist, and as he held them out for sale, he gave a one-word pitch:


He stood patiently as we inspected the goods and waited for our response.

Was I missing something? Was I in the extension cord district? Was this some kind of cover that drug dealers were using? Was he a spy looking for his contact and using a code word to get the top-secret instructions for his next assignment?

“Uh, no thanks,” I said, and Adam and I walked away, shrugging.

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