Welcome to 2022 (and my deli tour of NYC).
If you missed Part I, check it out here. As noted, I am on this tour to talk to local deli employees and owners about their hopes and dreams for 2022. (They are New York’s coolest). I met some really interesting people along the way.
“Everything is a story. You are a story. I am a story.”Frances Hodgson Burnett
I walk into a fancier deli that has a coffee bar behind the counter. I order some tea after the line sort of clears out. The girl behind the counter looks tired. She has a baseball cap and a long sandy brown braid.
“Thanks for waiting,” she tells me. “No prob,” I reply. “Happy new year,” I tell her as she makes me tea and has her back turned to me.
“Yeah, happy new year!” she tells me. “You ok?” I ask her.
“I am so tired of this. I get tested like twice a day. It’s just a lot,” she tells me. “I hear you,” I tell her. “I get tested a lot, too.” She turns around and gives me a sympathetic smile.
“Is there anything you are looking forward to in the new year?” I ask her. She looks past me wistfully. She then sort of springs into action, “Honey?” she asks me. I nod.
“I know,” she says returning to my question. “I am going to dinner. I am excited about that,” she says.
I take a sip of my tea that honestly tastes like a cup of warm oatmilk. I wince a little. This is not what I wanted, but hey, this year has been rough. I dismiss the bad tea. “Well, I hope you enjoy your dinner!” I tell her with a big smile.
“Thanks,” she tells me waving.
I walk into a gourmet deli. The young man behind the counter in his fleece jacket and with his short curly black hair smiles at me.
“Do you guys have Ritz Bits crackers? With the cheese inside?” I ask him. He looks around. “No,” he says. I look around and spy them out of the corner of me eye. I bring them to the counter and look him in the eye, “You did have them. You lied to me,” I tell him joking. He laughs. “Sorry I was looking at the shelves in front,” he replies.
“You got to know what you are selling, man,” I tell him. “What do people usually get?” I ask him. “The Takis are very popular,” he answers with a laugh. “Happy new year,” I tell him. “Happy new year to you,” he tells me.
“Do you have any hopes and dreams for the new year?” I ask him.
“I want COVID to be over. I hope we can be happy, you know. I want people to find happiness.”
“Me too,” I tell him. “Wishing you a prosperous new year,” I tell him. He bows slightly and smiles. “You too,” I hear him say as the little bell on the door rings as I exit.
As I walk outside, I see the twins I had spotted earlier at the grocery mart. The ones who were pushing each other into the fruit stands. Their mom has a full grocery cart, and they are crossing the avenue. “HOLD MY HAND,” she yells at them both. The eight-year-old looking boys argue, sigh and then clutch her already full hands.