Sunday, April 7, 2013


"It's not even June yet," said an old black man in sunglasses, remarking on the hostility and tension in the air, something that seems to be a feature of New York summers. I was in the checkout line at one of the discount homegoods stores on Knickerbocker Avenue by my house. I was buying some mops.

He made this remark because there was a loud Latina lady, mid-twenties, on the plus side, next in line who had just flipped out when an elderly lady came up from the other side of the cashiers to pay, circumventing the line. "Oh no, where did that lady come from?" she shouted, sincerely bewildered by the old lady's arrival.

The old black man giggled to himself, a knowing chuckle, this wise-seeming, stoned-seeming, seen-everything-under-the-sun-joyful-resignation.

The Latina lady was encouraged by this. She was now an actress with an audience. The yelling continued, her voice rising, trying to build the audience, now addressing the cashier ringing up the little old lady, saying that "they" need a separate line, that it's not right. She kept on saying over and over again - that it's not right, not right. And again with the theys, she said that they, presumably these seniors, keep cutting the line, that the store needs to make a separate line for them, that it's not right.

I had my own experience with this at the Duane Reade down the block earlier that morning. Some old lady tried to cut in front of me while I was waiting to buy some probiotics for my upset stomach. I was, like this shouting lady, not in the mood, and told her that I was ahead of her.

While the little old lady was getting her homegoods rung up, the shouting lady grabbed some more items for her cart. She came back with hot dog rolls, ring pops, and a loaf of white bread.

"It's not even June yet," the old man said again.

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