Unexpected Stories Arising From NYC City Streets



610 5th Ave, NY, NY 10020

Neighborhood: Midtown

My story is true. Every detail I will relate is exactly as it happened on a beautiful spring day, May 16, 2000.

This story starts in Kingston, NY, where four co-workers from the Ulster County Department Of Social Services prepare for a wonderful, exciting day in New York City. At 6:30 a.m. all four women, Janet, Sue, Gloria and Reine meet at Janet’s house, to depart in a group to the Poughkeepsie Metro North Rail Station for the 7:30 a.m. train to Grand Central. We are all chattering, enjoying the beautiful morning and the anticipation of what lies ahead, as we have four tickets to be in the audience of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?!! What could be more exciting than that!!

Well, one of the conversations on the train was how Sue had seen a show the previous evening about an English guy who takes a chef to someone’s house, unexpectedly, and makes a gourmet meal out of whatever they find in the refrigerator. Gloria said, ” Oh, that’s Gordon Elliott, I love him. He does that all the time, and is that the show that ends up with hula dancers on the front lawn?” Sue says it is, and Gloria says she also has seen that show, and how he used to show up in the morning for Fox 5, and surprise people in the morning and ask to come in their homes also. Well, this is the background for the rest of the story.

We arrive at Grand Central, wait outside in a line for a cab, get one, jump in, and Janet gets in the front seat and tells the driver “Take us to Regis!” Of Course she is met with a blank stare, driver of unknown heritage clueless as to what a Regis is, she then tells him the address on 67th street. We arrive at 9:50 a.m. to an already forming line outside the studio. Our letter told us that to have the best chance of admittance, be there before 10:30 a.m. Luckily, we were much earlier than that.

Well, to shorten this part of the story, we do all get in the studio, and it is unbelievably exciting to actually be there, and what do we discover? It is a taping of a “Champion” show of Millionaire; anyone who’s ever won over $125,000 on the show is there, including the first millionaire, John Carpenter! Who would believe our good fortune!

The taping over, we are outside the studio and there is John Carpenter and his wife. We are lucky enough to pose for a couple pictures with them, pictures taken with Janet’s little disposable camera.

So we start walking down Central Park West to Columbus Circle, and during the walk, Reine tells Janet, “I wish something exciting would happen!” Janet says, “Like what, it’s the world’s most perfect day, and we’ve just been on the best show, and they asked the audience three times for our help, and we were right, all three times, and we’re pretty sure we were on camera! What more could happen to top all this?”

We walk down Fifth Avenue to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where we decide to take a little break. After the break, we continue walking down Fifth. Well, we’re crossing a street, and all of a sudden Gloria hollers out, “There’s Gordon Elliott!!”

Right in front of us, on the street corner, and he just grabs us four girls, and thrusts hot dogs wrapped in foil into our hands. There he is, big and tall, with his filming crew and other personnel bearing clipboards and Polaroid cameras! He tells us to open the hot dog, start eating them and walk down the street, and when he whistles turn around and walk back towards him. All the while Janet is complaining that she can’t eat the hot dog because it has mustard on it, so Gordon switches her hot dog with Reine (temporary appeasement, I think) and tells us to start walking. Reine’s hot dog also had mustard on it, but nobody seemed to care except Janet, that is.

Well, we did it the first time, and Gordon was clapping and hollering “Marvelous! Now do it again!”

I forgot to mention that while we were walking back, a little man ran up to us pressing Trident gum into our hands. We ended up doing it three times, and were told it was a commercial for Trident, to be aired in August on nationwide TV!

Well, we had to fill out our names and addresses on the forms on the clipboard, had our Polaroids taken and matched to our forms, and then each of us was given an envelope with a $10 bill in it! We were just so blown away by the entire experience. What are the odds of us four from upstate New York being in this commercial with someone we had only just discussed on the train on the way to the city in the a.m.?!! Then we posed for pictures with Gordon, who graciously handed our disposable camera to his cameraman while the other staff member held back pedestrian traffic. Needless to say, we all have 8X10’s of this incredible picture!

We continued walking the rest of the way, on cloud nine, all the way back to Grand Central, stopping at TGIFridays, for a well-deserved cocktail! Then we caught the 5:45 p.m. train back to Poughkeepsie, all of us so full of the wonder of how could such an incredible day ever happen.

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