Friday, June 02, 2006

The Great Combo™ Caper

Why you don't take/give Combos™ from/to strangers ...

So I was on the train and saw this odd scene that demanded documentation.

There's a couple with a child in a stroller. They are sitting at the end of the ... (what are subway seats called, sub-seats?). Standing above them is a stranger, holding on to one of those... (what are those hanging things we hold on to called, sub-hangers?). The stranger is eating Combos, ... out the bag no less (so low-brow, everyone knows you eat combos with only the finest of silverware, a sterling silver toothpick, and/or crystal plates).

So the baby is sitting in the stroller and is apparently telepathically communicating with the stranger, because all of a sudden, out of the blue, without any conspicuous prompting, the stranger gives the child a Combo™.

And then to my further surprise, the parents allow the child to take it. This baby is all of a year old, tops, well short of the legal age for Combo-eating. I don't consider myself a prude, but I was tempted to call Social Services on these people. I mean I know a Combo™ has riboflavin. And perhaps their new flavors/editions have been enriched with essential vitamins and nutrients, making it passable as some sort of ghetto multi-vitamin. But who allows their baby to take one from a stranger on the train??? Ewww. And she didn't even offer the combo with a sterling silver toothpick or anything, no, it was right out of her nasty, grubby, just-finished-fondling-the-escalator-handrail hands. The parents were so laissez-faire, I suspect they would have still allowed it even if she offered to chew it up and regurgitate it back into the baby's mouth.

But now here's the twist, the baby then took the Combo™, played with it for a while, feigned putting it into its mouth, and then proceeded to hand the combo off to the father. At which point I began feeling empathy for the Combo eater. Look like she was suckered by some sort of Combo™ Con, where hungry parents use their child to lure unknowing strangers into giving them nacho-cheese pretzel nuggets.

I waited to see if the stranger would demand the father return the Combo to her, that would have brought the odd scene full circle. But alas the stranger made no move, and after playing like he wasn't going to do anything with it, the father eventually ate the Combo.

I don't know who I want to judge more, the stranger who would have the gumption to give a Combo to a strange baby on the train. Or the Bonny & Clyde Combo™ Criminal Team. What I do know is I'm not taking or giving any Combos™ on the train ever. It's just too risky.


  1. Anonymous6/02/2006


    hilarious story TAN. I can't believe that. i would never allow my baby to take ANYTHING from a stranger on the train

  2. Anonymous6/02/2006

    can't lie, I might take a Combo from a stranger, i love Combos.

  3. Anonymous6/02/2006


    being able to witness random story material like this almost makes me miss taking the subway.

    ah, nope, that feeling has passed now.

  4. I serve my combos with a toothpick through the soft center.

  5. Anonymous6/02/2006

    I had to take breaks while drinking my coffee with this one. very funny. I think combos are disgusting.

  6. Anonymous6/02/2006

    this is why the subway is worth the price of admission. You get the transportation and entertainment for that $2. beautiful.

  7. That was bizarrely engaging. Was the baby trained to collect junk food on behalf of the parents? Who even buys Combos anymore? Those things are nasty!

  8. Anonymous6/02/2006

    Wait, sharing Combos on the train isn't a normal thing? I've eaten my weight in Combos once on a transit-heavy day.

  9. If it was a pizza Combo™, all bets are off.

  10. No freakin' way!
    Combos from a stranger, mangled by a baby, and then eaten by the parent.

    I bet these people wonder why they get "stomach flu" all the time.

    That just creeps me out.

  11. Anonymous6/02/2006

    it is beyond me how anyone can eat anything in the subway. it's the equivalent of eating in a public restroom.

  12. Anonymous6/02/2006

    Great story...

    Once I offered a half-eaten bag of Combos to a homeless guy (who had walked the length of the car asking for food). Even he wouldn't take a Combos from an open bag.

  13. Funny post...I love the crap I see on the subway. One valid point that everyone seems to be missing here however...a Combo is a choking hazard for a kid that age. What the hell were these parents thinking? As a former PICU nurse I used to have to deal with this type of non-thinking, why-were-these-people-allowed-to-reproduce, bottom-of-the-gene-pool - type parent on a regular basis. Oy!

  14. I have never eaten a Combo, I don't think it is real food, let alone a Combo from a stranger...or from my grubby kid, or on a subway.

    Wrong and hilarious.

  15. Anonymous6/03/2006

    When I was in my late 20s I watched agog as a co worker reached out and grabbed this baby's chin and pulled on it and said how cute it was. Mind you, this was a total stranger's baby. And it was a cute baby.
    Now I'm not that scruffy now, and wasn't particularly undesirable then (IMHO), but I just couldn't imagine being able to do such a thing. I mean just to reach out and pet someone else's cat or dog is ok and fun; but to pat somebody's baby on the head, to say "Coochie coochie coo" to it, and I have never met the parents? Unheard of.
    And the rub is: she was a she, in her early 20s, and she worked there. I worked there too, but I'm a guy.
    When I first read this update, TAN, I imagined a guy handing the baby that Combo, and was duly horrified. But if a woman hands a Combo to a baby she's not affiliated with, it's... ok.
    I mean, no biggie. But it's just the way it is. We men have the edge in some areas, and women have the edge in others.
    But getting back to your idyll. OMG on that father ending up with it in his mouth! Who are these people?!

  16. Anonymous6/03/2006

    One more thing. Eleaq's comment about a Combo being a choking hazard for a baby that small/young is very very important.

  17. clean out my combos, fill them with powdered viagra, and refill with cheese whizz........currently looking for the train...

  18. I'm really impressed with the baby, actually. I get so jealous when people eat colorfully packaged snacks right in front of me on the train. Yesterday a woman devoured an entire Reese's two-pack right next to me. And all the baby had to do was just stare at the Combo-holder and be a baby. Kudos! Also Combos.

  19. What can I say? Even babies know good eatin' when they see it.

  20. So, a good friend of mine was riding the bus at an airport and was seated next a woman and her roughly 8 month old baby. The child kept pulling my friend's hair and smiling to which the lady said, "oh, she likes you," and then handed my friend the baby. Unsure of what the proper response to a complete stranger handing a child to her was, she enjoyed some pro-bono babysitting fun the rest of the ride. Apparently, public transportation and child rearing have a whole different set of rules.

  21. You are right. I'm the mother of 3 boys various ages. 1 is way too small for a combo. I'd say maybe age 3 is appropriate. The hard pretzel outside is too hard for mouths with little teeth, and mouths not ready for combo's. Good point! I've had several dozen of those moments where you want to say, What are you thinking? to parents. But now that i'm 41, and wiser, I just say to myself...that's their child, whatever happens happens. I have a few times, said my peace though, and i've gotten dirty looks.

    - Sassy

  22. Who am I kidding. that one person had a point. Don't accept anything from a stranger on a train. You don't, let alone a damn baby.

  23. Beware of strangers baring Combos. LOL, too funny.

  24. Anonymous6/08/2006

    Funny story!

    The things you hold onto on the bus/subway are called strap hangers. don't know why I know that.

    Anyway, at least they weren't Doritos. Those things have MSG.

  25. Anonymous6/11/2006

    That is just ultra bad businsess. In fact, she should probably have her kid taken away for that. Okay, well maybe not taken away - but she should at least have to eat combos from a dirty-handed stranger on the subway too.

  26. Anonymous6/20/2006

    One time, I was sitting in a car service headquarters in Brooklyn, waiting for a car, when two men in suits came in and sat down next to me. Theyre just bullshiting, whatever, when one of them looks at me, and says, as he reaches his hand into my bag of chips, "Can I have some?"

    I'm so shocked, I stop eating and actually answered when he asked when I did for a living, and then he forced me to take his sister's number when I said that I worked in a gallery, insisting, "She's a great artist."

    Another time, I went up to a couple at a baseball agme and told them that their son looked just like my dad at that age, upon which, they handed him to me.

    People are weird.

  27. i don't understand these "combos"; a combination of what? crap and turds? and wouldn't that make it ONE thing and essentially NOT a combination? it's just nasty...
    futhermore, let's take the pizza combo for example -- are you telling me that a this hard, beyond expiration dated foodstuff (yes, foodstuff) is equivalent to pizza?! like, are you satisfied by this? are your cravings, now quieted?

  28. Anonymous9/28/2006

    Totally lethal story arc: baby, Combo, subway, spoonhead parent. Brings tears to my eyes every time.

  29. Anonymous1/16/2009

    Fantastic post. Thanks very much.


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