Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bodegas and F%^k the rules

I moved into a new place over the past week.  I forgot how much I hate moving.  Between the move, work, and spending time at the hospital with a friend who is critically ill, I'm exhausted.  I miss writing in the blog and sharing my stories.

Given the fact that my kitchen was/is packed up, that I have had no time, and that my energy has been severely limited, I've been eating turkey sandwiches at bodegas almost every night for dinner and sometimes for lunch too.

Last night, I packed up what was left of my old apartment and stopped by my usual bodega.  As I walked in, the man at the counter was lighting what must have been his 20th cigarette.  The place was filled with clouds of smoke.  Yes, they smoke in most of these bodegas.  In fact

Smoke has always bothered me.  When I was a little kid, my grandfather and uncles smoked in their houses whenever we were there.  It is even worse when someone is preparing your sandwich.  The man making the food at least smokes outside.  This guy doesn't.

Every bodega seems to be run by someone who was born in another country and is either learning english or has given up on it. The man last night doesn't speak any english, so you have to wait for the man making sandwiches to tell him what to ring up.  If you ask for something under the counter like peanut m&ms (not that I eat too many of them, really, only a few packs a day when I'm stressed), he looks at you funny and you have to point until he gets the right thing.

Last nights smoky experience included a visit from Ken who usually does my laundry.  His laundry is next door.  As I was waiting for my sandwich, the smoking arabic man is singing along terribly to some pretty interesting middle eastern music.  It already has some notes that are unfamiliar to me, but his singing sounds like a dog howling along to Dolly Parton or a goat dying.  Ken walks in to get an energy drink and a girl at the counter waiting to order a sandwich yells out to him, "hey china man."  I was a little surprised, but he just smiled and waved.  He always seems to be in a good mood anyway.

You never know what you are going to pay from day to day at the same bodega for the same exact things.  Sometimes it costs me $3 for a sandwich and sometimes $4.50.  Sometimes I get my bag and it has two bags of peanut m&ms even though I only bought one.  I've learned to just pay what I'm asked and not complain.  It probably all evens out in the end.

They also sell single cigarettes at most bodegas. You can walk in and buy a "loosie." there.  I didn't even know that was illegal until I read that Eric Garner's death was a result of him selling loose cigarettes to people.

In Brooklyn, bodegas have survived and thrived to serve the people in each neighborhood.  In spite of the rule breaking, or maybe because of it, I'll miss the one by my place.  The one by my new place is only open until 9:00 p.m. instead of 1:00 a.m. and is run by spanish speakers.  They seem nice enough.  My new neighborhood is definitely more of the couple with a stroller and two kids type of place than full of the colorful people from my last neighborhood.  It's refreshing, but will mean that I'll have to venture further for my stories than before.

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