Friday, October 19, 2012

Sodas and Sandwiches.


We all have our deli. Bodega, if you like to keep it real New York. We have our deli-man or men,  therefore. We all have our preferred pizzeria, whether it's the one with the 99 cents slice or the best darn eggplant parm. And of course, our pizza man. Our mailman, elusive to many, but a welcome bearer of packages and...bills...to those of us in and out. We return to that particular coffee shop again and again...daily...sometimes, multiple times a day (shhhh, it's New York- we're all running on something!). Our barista, like many of the others above, can almost always forego the whole “what would you like?” process and automatically serve us exactly what we normally order or maybe, rarely, what we should have ordered but wouldn’t have. We accept this. These are some of my very favorite relationships--public relationships that are all born and endure mere blocks from our places of work or our homes.

            My homebase deli-not necessarily the one with the most organic produce or greatest variety of cuisine or unbeatable prices, but my favorite because of the people who work there- is about a block and a half from my apartment.  I typically buy odd items from it. I don’t know why. Things like stamps. Who buys stamps anymore? Batteries. Maybe a bottle of Sriracha. If it’s been a rough and late (notice the combination of rough and late- it’s key), I’ll get an egg white, tomato and Swiss cheese sandwich on whole wheat toast. If it’s been an even rougher and later night, I think that there may or may not have been several bags of jalapeno kettle chips and Milano cookie packs in tow upon departure from my Metro Deli.



There’s nothing incredibly special about this deli or their sub-par food except for my interactions with my main deli-man. He knows a great deal about me- where I’m from, when I am employed, my current mood, my food preferences, etcetera. He asks me “if I’ve written anything lately,” and nods understandingly at whatever response I offer.

Him? Well, I know that he emigrated from Yemen twenty years ago, and he is waiting anxiously for his wife and two sons to also make the move over to the United States. I’ve seen photos of his family and heard about his infinite love for them and for his homeland. He informs me of the unfortunate turmoil and joblessness in Yemen, though. He’s working hard here in New York to eventually move back to Yemen and lead a life of wealth there with what he’s accumulated here. He lives alone in Queens without his family for now. He’s almost as fond of cheap scratch-and-win lottery tickets as I am. We do them together. He enjoyed those three tickets the last time so much, he didn’t charge me anything for the ten dollars’ worth of items that I’d set up on the counter. He drinks beer only two nights a week. He works too much to spend too much time or money on “getting crazy,” as he refers to it. I know all of these things. But, I do not know his name. Isn’t that odd? I don’t think he knows mine either, now that I consider this. I should finally ask. I should know that about this man who has become a fixture in my life, but in all honesty, it would be much less meaningful than all of the things I do know.

I’ve been sitting here contemplating the fact that he arrived here to the United States to work hard, generate income, and live a solitary life in order to return back to his home. It's my perception that we’re all working hard to a) travel or re-locate to somewhere deemed better, b) return home with acquired skills, wealth, knowledge or just our body and souls intact, c) to survive where we are, provide a stable but meager income to afford life’s basic needs and an occasional want, d) to flourish where we are, get ahead, and succeed for here and for now and for who knows how else long? So, he’s staying to go. Some people are going, going, going just to stay. Some people are going to come. And coming to go. Motion sickness is settling in now, but you get it. We’re all coming, stopping, and going. Some are passersby, some are taking a seat.

Where are you headed? Anywhere?

My point is, I suppose, that we are all given an opportunity to share something in our racings about town, in and out of this place and that place, back and forth between home, work, and out with friends. Take that ten seconds and find out someone else's status. Check in, if you will, with these teeny, tiny moments. Surely, we all possess much closer relationships with others in our lives, but at times, I think we can learn the very most from seemingly impersonal, irrelevant or mundane conversations and exchanges, not to get all Oprah on you. But, I often leave contemplating something entirely different than I had prior to whatever "minor" exchange occurred. That's a start.

No matter where you're going, someone else is either returning or heading there as well.

My palms are itching, so I think that it's about time for me to go buy a scratch-off lottery ticket, and that’s about all I can tell you at this moment. Ask me again after.


 
 
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