26 May 2006

union street market: an analysis

When I first moved here just over a year ago, I used to go to the Union Street Market pretty much every day. It satisfied my need for dishwater coffee the way that only a certain kind of bodega can, and I missed that certain kind of bodega from New York, where I would veritably trip over them.

The older Chinese man who worked mornings seemed to be on the way into or out of a rough time with a customer, every time I came in. which meant he'd see me, and he was thrilled. I didn't ask to use the bathroom to shoot up/have sex with/kill anything, I didn't ask for shit they obviously didn't carry, I didn't count my change six times and then claim he'd shorted me. I didn't even knit my brow. He gave me bad coffee. I gave him sixty cents. We bid each other adieu. Ours was an uncomplicated relationship.

So I go in yesterday in search of butter and milk, and okay cheese while I'm there, and my 60-year-old Chinese man isn't there. Instead, there's a 45-year-old Korean woman and her husband, and they're working the crowd. Using their three words of Spanish to charm the Mexican dude in front of me, joking about my all-dairy diet, carding the 50-year-old woman behind me for cigarettes to make her laugh. And I felt a little sad.

I'm no longer anyone's favorite customer. Their clientele very well might be just as hard to deal with as a year ago, but the owners have hired people better equipped to deal with the diversity (and by "diversity" I mean "different kinds of crazy") of the neighborhood, and subsequently, my willingness to put what I want on a counter and pay for it is no longer a virtue.

Though it must be said, it's not like I didn't get hell for all that dairy. So maybe I'll be okay after all.

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