Since I recently moved, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the friendly nature of all the small shop owners around my new place. One in particular is a really nice Vietnamese gentleman who owns a small convenience/liquor store right nearby. He always strikes up a conversation to see how you are, ask where you’ve been, etc.
Since the Mega Millions lotto is up to $257,000,000 I figured I had to buy one ticket for fun. So this morning, I ventured across the street before hitting the gym to get a ticket. As always, I was greeted by the same friendly face at the convenience store. Right before me in line was a women who was probably in her late 40s but looked much older. I’m not sure if she was wearing any skirt or shorts, but the only thing covering her was a jacket that came to her mid-thigh region. Not exactly ideal clothing for a rainy, windy, 50 degree day, but hey, who am I to say.
So I start thinking she is probably a prostitute, but then I try to wash that thought from my head. In a few weeks, I’ll have lived in California for 6 years. In those 6 years, I’ve become a lot less quick to jump to conclusions. In short, I’m not the tough mean New Yorker I once was.
So then I noticed that she smelled like an ash tray. She is also missing a front tooth and the surrounding teeth look a bit “burned”. Can you say crack pipe holder?
Again I thought, “Stop, don’t be mean.” Then I start thinking that I’m not being mean, just drawing from experience. From my days working in the Cambridge Hospital as an HIV counselor I’ve dealt with many addicts. This was especially so when I staffed the counseling sites at the Addiction Treatment Unit and the Needle Exchange Program. Then I notice that she’s got “coke mouth” – the one where they keep moving their jaw around and licking their lips. OK, she’s on drugs, I’m sure of it.
It’s not that unusual to see someone on drugs in a store. So why am I telling this story?
Because I then here this exchange:
Woman: So do you know if he has any?
Shop-owner: (whispering) Yeah, you want me to call him?
Woman: How much?
Shop-owner: (whispering) $60
Woman: OK, I need one. I’ll be at the coffee shop.
Shop-owner: OK, I’ll call him right now
So, I don’t know what that sounds like to you, but it sure doesn’t sound legal? I’m not going to mention the exact location of this shop since I don’t really need any “business people” angry with me. But man, it is so lousy to have this in my neighborhood.
In retrospect maybe I shouldn’t repress my New York instincts so much.