He's the master of his metropolis, but sometimes the Big Apple bites back. One evening last month New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter went shopping for a videocassette recorder and encountered some serious static. When a salty salesman—we'll call him Manuel—at Circuit City on East 86th Street told Jeter, "You suck," it seemed like an appropriate time for extra batting practice. The beef began after Manuel struck out trying to locate a VCR that Jeter wanted to purchase, the store computer indicating that each of the player's first three selections were out of stock. After Jeter settled for his fourth choice, he was told by Manuel to follow him to another register because Manuel's had malfunctioned.
"Doesn't anything work in this store?" Jeter joked. "My credit card doesn't work either."
Perhaps Manuel has an offbeat sense of humor, or perhaps he was having a bad day, but this was his response: "Yeah, well, you suck anyway."
Jeter did a double take. "I suck?" he said.
"Yeah, you suck," Manuel said. "Griffey's better."
"Yeah?" Jeter said. "Do I come to your job and tell you some other guy is better than you?"
"What, did I offend you?" the salesman replied.
"No, not at all," Jeter said, his voice rising, his green eyes ablaze with anger. "I like hearing that I suck."
A few seconds later Jeter regained his composure. "Welcome to New York," he said to an out-of-town shopping companion. "Now I've officially heard it all. I come to this store to spend money, and the salesman tells me I suck. Nothing in this town surprises me anymore."
Manuel handed Jeter the sales receipt, grinning a goofy grin. Charles Barkley might have tossed the guy through the 31-inch TV set behind the register. Jeter just smiled and said, "Have a nice day."