I was about two blocks away from my apartment building on my way home from work when I came upon a film crew dismantling a bunch of equipment in the street. There were lights and cameras, but the action was all over. I scanned the faces of those in the area, but saw no movie or TV stars. But in the course of my scanning, I did notice a director’s chair that had “Dennis Franz” printed on its canvas back-cushion.

“Aha,” I thought, “They’ve been filming NYPD Blue here.”

As I was walking by the scene, I passed a table that made me stop and stare. On that table was a large tray full of pastries. These were not your cheapo, grocery-store-bakery pastries. They looked like they had come from an incredibly expensive and fancy place. There were pastries of many varieties on that tray: bear claws, turnovers, doughy puffs, oversized danishes with luscious icing dripped over them, and many others.

I asked the guy who happened to be closest to the table, “Hey, is anyone going to eat these?”

“Hell if I know,” he said.

“Do you think I could take some?” I asked.

“I don’t give a shit,” he said, walking away.

I looked around to see if anyone in the area looked like they might have a problem with me taking some pastries. They were all busy disassembling things or talking into cell phones or to other people. So I quickly grabbed as many pastries as I could hold. That was five. I piled them up and cupped my hands beneath them. The only way to make sure I wouldn’t drop them was to walk with my arms outstretched in front of me like one of the wise men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus.

At the end of that block was a convenience store owned by these guys from Yemen. One of them was named Lou. Or at least, that’s the name he went by. Lou liked to joke around with customers. I went in there a lot to buy sundries, so he and I had a decent rapport.

When I walked by the store with my pastries, Lou was standing out in front, talking to his brother—whose name I never did know—and a couple of neighborhood teenagers. One of those kids was dribbling a basketball. Lou spotted me and said, “Hey, my friend. What have you brought me?”

I said, “Uh, I’m bringing these home for myself, actually.”

“Where did you get them?” he asked.

“From the set of NYPD Blue, just over there,” I said.

“So you didn’t pay for them,” he said.

“No,” I said, instantly regretting it.

Lou grabbed a danish off the top of the pile and said, “This one looks good.” Then the teenagers each took one. After taking a bite of the first one, Lou took another one and handed it to his brother. “These are delicious,” he said.

I still had one left. Although peeved, I was not super pissed off, because the one I had left looked like a good one—it was a raspberry danish, I think—and after all, I hadn’t paid for them.

But then, just my luck, my roommate Groover rode up on his bike. He was on his way to work. He was a chef, so his hours were very different from mine. I said, “Hey man.”

“What have you got there?” he asked.

“A pastry I stole from NYPD Blue,” I said.

Even though there was just the one pastry left, I was still holding it out in front of me with my hands cupped together. I must have looked like an idiot. But anyway, that stance made me vulnerable, and Groover jumped on the opportunity. He reached an arm under mine and jabbed it upward, hitting my wrists hard. The pastry flew into the air. Before I had time to react, he snatched it with his other hand, said, “Later, sucker!” and rode off on his damn bike.

I walked back to the table where the pastries had been. They were gone. I asked a guy, not the same guy from before, if he knew where the pastries were. “Probably in the trash,” he said. Then he said, “It’s over there,” and pointed at a dumpster.

I turned and walked home, not sure whether I was more mad that I was pastryless or that some guy thought I looked like the kind of person who’d resort to scavenging for pastries in the trash.