Until the local news started asking questions, Hector Santiago had a pretty good thing going. Despite his homelessness and raging alcoholism, his buddy Max Caramas, a NJ Transit bus driver, had him set up with a "job" directing traffic at a midtown bus lot. All Santiago had to do was swig vodka and stop traffic whenever buses needed to pull out of the lot, or run and get coffee for his pal. And then along came NBC New York to shove a camera in Santiago's sodden face.
A commuter who regularly takes a bus in and out of lot was concerned about Santiago's sobriety, and complained to NJ Transit. When he never heard back, he took his story to NBC New York, who set up a sting with cameras showing Santiago pounding vodka while on the job. And when a reporter confronts Santiago, he makes no attempt to hide the boozing, even toasting God while taking a swig from the bottle. Eat your heart out Arnold Diaz:
Be sure to stay tuned for the 2 minute mark, when the reporter asks Santiago if he thinks drinking on the job is bad. He replies, "I don't care. I watch them [the buses]." Santiago says he's homeless, and that he known Caramas for years. NJ Transit told NBC that Santiago is not an employee, and it appears that Caramas, a bus driver, is also responsible for directing traffic. And he allegedly paid Santiago (in booze?) to do his job while he naps.
One day after confronting Santiago, he was nowhere to be seen, which is probably for the best. NJ Transit has not responded to our request for comment Santiago, but at least we can all sleep easier knowing things just got a little worse for a sad drunk homeless man.