Horn and Hardarts automat was open all night and could have been one of the loneliest places in the world, considering the fact that you hardly ever saw anyone who worked there, only an occasional hand slipping quickly in and out of one of those little window boxes to replace a piece of pie. But at three o'clock in the morning it was the only place to go; and there was always an interesting assortment of characters there, and fascinating conversations. Writers and poets, actors and artists, cab drivers, hookers, cops, and old men who just sat there looking out the window, nursing a pot of tea, just waiting, because they had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. You could stay there all night if you wanted to and no one ever bothered you because there was no one ever there, except the hands in the boxes, and they never bothered anybody.
The only drawback was, you could never get a free cup of coffee like you could at Ernie's or the Art Museum -- it would have been pretty awkward trying to convince one of those hands in the boxes to trust you for a cup of coffee -- besides, they moved too quick to even start a conversation.