Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ghetto Vignette

I used to live in the ghetto. Well, not really, but on the border of it. Plus I had a human services job that involved home visits all thru the ghetto, resulting in plenty of familiarity with the commercial establishments there. By the by, it's me, not INK- using his warm laptop again. You guys should know that he would never work a job like that. Ever.

So anyway, one of my faves in the ghetto is the liquor store. Today my travels took me back to the hood. As usual, little red-headed girl is working the register. And as usual, there are at least two K-fed types manning the rest of the store. Lil' Red never seems afraid, even when the K-feds aren't there. My conclusion, over the course of 10 years or so, is that Red has some heat behind the counter. She's always as relaxed as a boddhisava, regardless of the clientele. One day I was there and a young man ahead of me wanted to make a purchase. I will tell it to you straight. It was almost 9 pm and he was in his pajamas and I got the distinct impression that he was not getting ready for bed. Au contraire, he'd just woken up and needed something other than coffee to get his "day" started. He wanted to buy alcohol the way most of us buy gas. He put his money (mostly coin) on the counter and said he wanted that much worth. Um. UM. I am watching Red intently now to see how she's gonna finesse this. And finesse it she does. "Okay. Do you want it like, clear, or brown?" Mumblemumble. She did it and he left with some booze. Amazing. She should be in diplomacy or some shit.

Tonight wasn't nearly as bizarre, but still fun. This time, I was in line with my chianti and a maybe Guyanese couple were ahead of me. Red looked impatient, but I couldn't tell why cuz they were blocking my view. She finally got impatient enough to bump them and ring me up. They got out of the way and on the counter were three small bottles of vodka- two snazzy ones and one Smirnoff. Apparently, there were having trouble figuring out the cheapest way to get shitfaced. Today's Helpful Hint: buy in bulk, kids!

Best day to visit said store: Any holiday eve. Ghetto people use cash more often than plastic. On any Eve, there will be at least two K-feds plus some old blues-y looking guys manning every aisle. And the register is so fulla cash that it doesn't close all the way between transactions. Also, the door weighs 10x more than any other retail door. No one's getting in or out of there quickly.

The last thing I heard as I was leaving tonight was the customer behind me asking Red if she "could cash this $1000 bill for me?" Red: "Yeah. After 9 and I get 50% commission."

Very last thing: I make it out the door and two guys are coming in. One breezes past me, the other blocks my path and does a ghetto version of Joey (from Friends) of "How you doin'?" I say, "Fine, thanks, and how are you?" Needless to say, this unnerves him, especially in combo with my farm-level wellies, and he steps aside. I love the ghetto.

Oh PS- Why else I think Red is packin': One night, someone put their car thru the plate glass window of the store. Red slept on the floor ALONE to watch the store. When I asked why, she simply said, "Window repairmen don't work at night." Kids, she is like in her mid to late 20s and about 5'1". You decide.

No comments: