Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Easy to be Hard

Gobble Cobble Salads from Mr Mango bodega
I've been slowly breaking up with Fresh Garden, our corner bodega, for Mr Mango across the street.  It's nothing personal, in fact we love the owners of what we formerly called the fifteen dollar store because you were forced to drop that amount as a minimum for years.  But it's really all about the selection of produce, the freshness and variety.  Mr Mango even started carrying some chicken and Impossible meats. They often surprise you with a new vegetable or fruit that you can try because it's easy and cheap.  And now they are stepping up their prepared food game, like this fun, fatty salad with a pesto sauce.  Everything feels freshly made and you get enough romaine lettuce for two servings. 

I think the winner in most categories is Mango, with exception to ease of shopping.  They get crowded to the point where due to space restrictions each person has like 3 seconds to pick their choices of chilled vegetables before moving on or it can get ugly.  That stresses me out, so sometimes I choose to pay slightly more and take my time at Fresh Garden.

There is a man at work who is New York through and through.  His name is Mark and he's half Puerto Rican, looks white but speaks with a thick Bronx accent.  He sees me and always with his deep, guttural voice that is made shockingly high in order to, I guess, make fun of the way I talk, says 'Aaaaandy!' to which I make my voice as deep as it can go, say Mahhhhk!  His locker is next to mine and his voice so loud that I felt I knew him for a couple of years before even speaking.  I would hear him talk passionately about 'the game' the night before with male coworkers in a very brutish manner that I secretly enjoyed and wished I could be part of.  But as if he saw me as a baby kitten or something you had to handle delicately, he tried to make easy conversations about baked goods (I used to bring their department fresh baked brownies and cookies) or simply say 'how are you to-day' like I was reTAHDed or something.  Then one day he realized I loved music and now that's become the only topic.  There is a city stereotype that likes to bark questions at top volume but has no interest in hearing answers.  I, on the other hand, find myself many times sincerely answering to the backs of people walking away only to realize the question was rhetorical.  Mark likes to give choice questions, again, not to hear my answers, more a statement.  In the past it's been things like 'Top 5 rock and roll bands of all time!? Who's first?  Most times he proceeds to tell me the answer before I could even take a breath.  This goes on each week for years now, similar questions, many times asking just as he walks into the men's bathroom and I'm left there sacked stewing in my brilliant answers
Yesterday it was,  Aaaaandy! Doobie Brothers or 3 Dog Night??? Without hesitation I loudly and firmly said 'For me, 3 Dog Night.  I know the Doobies deserve it more but c'mon man, Bronx born, Puerto Rican Chuck Negron, 3 singers?!'  It, being the idiotic Rock and Roll induction award that has not been relevant forever but still riles folks up and I have to admit, usually sparks my curiosity.  As he slowly slid his work shirt over his yellowed wife beater and rounded beer belly, he looked at me maybe for the first time, hesitated and lost a little steam before proceeding with his own spiel.   I think I broke the Matrix.

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