These are the people in my neighborhood

IMG 34251 225x300 These are the people in my neighborhood

What's so interesting, lady? Haven't you ever taken a picture of yourself outside Dunkin' Donuts?

Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
In your neighborhood?
Say, who are the people in your neighborhood?
The people that you meet each day

Once upon a time I had a job. Or maybe I just dreamt it up to kill time between layoffs. The neighborhood where I worked was filled with tourists and people trying to sell them “I Love NY” t-shirts and sightseeing packages. Navigating the long block between the generic cialis tabs subway and my office made me want to kill everybody from the Midwest so they’d stop visiting. Of course the important people in my neighborhood were my coworkers. I interacted with them all day everyday. Together we got things done. So let me break off a little somethin’ somethin’ for them…

Oh, the sales guy always brings up the tale
Of the deal he made without fail.
He’ll talk and talk the whole day through
But get your paycheck safe to you.

‘Cause a sales guy is a person in your neighborhood,
In your neighborhood, he’s in your neighborhood.
A sales guy is a person in your neighborhood–
A person that you meet each day.

And let’s not forget the other marketing guy, my former partner in crime…

Oh, the other marketing guy is smart it’s said.
His writing brings the company cred.
If there’s a fire anywhere about.
Well, his words will put it out.

‘Cause the other marketing guy is a person in your neighborhood,
In your neighborhood, he’s in your neighborhood.
And a sales guy is a person in your neighborhood–
Well they’re the people that you meet
When you’re scrounging for free eats
They’re the people that you meet each day!

I don’t go to that office anymore, what with the layoff and all. They even stopped putting money in my bank account for some reason. I spend much of the day in my dining room, in the company of two furry creatures who sleep and drool a lot. My trips out into the world give me some fleeting human contact. Over the last several months, certain individuals have become the new people in my neighborhood.

A friendly middle-aged Hispanic woman runs the register at a local fruit stand. Fruit stands in Jackson Heights are only slightly less common than cell phone stores, eyebrow threading places and cialis online people handing out fliers for English lessons. But this one is the cheapest, something I appreciate given my limited cash flow. A pint of fresh blueberries there goes for $1, and a pound of apples less than that. I shop there multiple times each week, and this lady is always working. She smiles when I reach the front of the line and asks after me and wifey in what little English she knows. The questions are generally one or more of the following…

  • You go to gym today?
  • You no working today?
  • Where your wife?
  • You cooking tonight? (This one is generally followed by a laugh.)

My answers are generally of the yes/no variety to ease the exchange. She’s probably saying more than I’m understanding. I don’t know much about her, except that she works a lot and her teenage daughter attends the school catercorner to the stand. Our conversations last the time it takes to ring up a basket full of fruits and vegetables and rarely stray from the aforementioned topics. Her boss – the old Korean guy in a “git r done” hat – is usually sitting right there and itching to ring up the next customer.

Oh, the fruit lady always has the kale
And all the other fruits and vegetables that if they were organic would be collected along a trail.
She works, and works the whole day through
To get me the cheap berries blue.

‘Cause a fruit lady is a person in your neighborhood,
In your neighborhood, she’s in your neighborhood.
A fruit lady is a person in your neighborhood–
A person that you meet each day.

The young Indian guy at the Dunkin’ Donuts knows what I want on sight… medium ice coffee, black. This is a high-traffic store on a high-traffic street corner. The 7 train station is directly above and generic cialis reviews trains rattle by, shaking the store, about every five minutes. The sidewalks are generally too crowded to walk in a straight line for more than a few steps. Inside are always the usual types of characters – a hospital employee on his way to work, a cop or two on a break, some gangly teenagers getting a sugar fix and an old lady of dubious residence with a plastic bag fetish. Random customers come and go. The cashier will yell out my order from wherever he is the moment he sees me. Sometimes he’s helping another customer. Sometimes he’s in the back, if it’s time to make the donuts. Sometimes he’s at home on his couch watching television. It doesn’t matter. I look up upon hearing his voice and nod. He brings my drink. I pay with exact change and leave. That is the extent of our interaction. There was some confusion a few months back over whether “black” coffee meant no milk or no milk and no sugar. That’s long since been resolved, at least as far as we’re concerned. This is the most basic of customer/cashier relationships. But I enjoy it for what it is. And his recognizing me does make me feel important for a few seconds every afternoon. That in itself is worth the $2.37.

Oh, a Dunkin’ Donuts guy is brave it’s said.
His store is orange, brown and, if there’s a police incident, maybe a little red.
If Norm is near about.
Well, my order he’ll yell it out!

‘Cause a Dunkin’ Donuts guy is a person in your neighborhood,
In your neighborhood, he’s in your neighborhood.
And a fruit lady is a person in your neighborhood–
Well they’re the people that you meet
When you’re avoiding strollers and garbage on the street
They’re the people that you meet each day!

There are other characters around too. It’s a rare day that I don’t see the blond ponytail guy with the spiderweb tattoo on his shoulder. He’s generally rocking the mirrored sunglasses and pills kamagra the outsized attitude, like Dog The Bounty Hunter, with only slightly better hair. Sometimes he’s leaning against a wall, and looking important. Sometimes he’s holding court, and looking important. Sometimes he’s hurrying somewhere, and looking important.

Jackson Heights has no shortage of characters, though no one else I see everyday. My interactions with the people in my neighborhood are brief, but I appreciate them for what they are. It’s nice to be recognized, to be appreciated outside of your own home. Work offers a sort of validation that unemployment doesn’t. Sitting at home alone all day can skew your reality. But a quick trip around the block can bring it all back into focus.

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6 Comments

  1. Amanda wrote:

    Well now I know what you’re doing while I’m at work all day: getting really high.

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 11:41 pm | Permalink
  2. rosalind wrote:

    Working can skew your reality too. Working in Alabama produces a skewered and roasted brain.

    Love your blog!

    Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 12:17 am | Permalink
  3. dawn wrote:

    Nice post. I read your blog often.

    Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
  4. Tina wrote:

    Love Amanda’s comment!!! Have a good day Norm.

    Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Permalink
  5. Lia wrote:

    Norm, your posts invariably make me smile, and often make me laugh out loud (am I supposed to write “lol”?). I eagerly check your blog every morning before I start checking the various job boards (I was laid off in November), and I am always delighted when I find you’ve written something new. Thank you so much taking the time to describe your observations to us! You do it so well!!

    Friday, August 7, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
  6. Norm wrote:

    Thanks, Lia, for your kind words. And sorry for the delay in posting your comment, and in writing new stuff. My wife and I took a short vacation. I’ll be back at it this week.

    Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

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