It’s been a rough week for Ahmed Mohammed, the assholish hot dog slinger who’s been ripping off tourists near ground zero: First he got caught charging outrageous markups ($30 for a hot dog and soda) and shortchanging customers for pretzels and other stuff from his cart. Then he received a fine for failing to post prices on the cart. Now he’s been fired. He wasn’t sharing the extra revenue he was generating with the owner of the cart. Surprise surprise.
Abdelalim Abdelbaky, the owner’s son, is now manning the cart and giving out free pretzels in an effort to win back customers Mohammed alienated.
Here at ANIMAL, we have mixed feelings about Ahmed Mohammed. On the one hand, he’s a real sleazy person who takes advantage of people. On the other hand, fleecing suckers is an important and vital New York City tradition. “There are enormous industries in New York City entirely based on ripping off tourists,” Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan writes in his stirring defense of Ahmed Mohammed. In a city being rearranged by foreign investors paying huge sums for real estate they don’t live in, Ahmed Mohammed’s street-level scam is a throwback to the old days when New York City actually was a tough place to be. It’s almost quaint. Nolan writes that Mohammed’s crime was that he didn’t hustle big enough: “If he had dreamt up an opaque financial security that could be packaged and sold off to rubes before it blew up, he’d be a millionaire.” We agree with this.
Now that Mohammed is out of work, he should focus on working toward a career in finance. He has shown an entrepreneurial hustle and sociopathic unscrupulousness that investment banks value. He has balls of brass and a heart of coal. There’s a bright future in villainy for Mr. Mohammed, if he’s up for it. After all, New York rewards villains, as the unstoppable juggernaut of Wall Street will forever attest.