Welcome back to my deli tour.
We are taking the pulse of the city.
This deli was emptier than the others I had seen. By the time I got here, I was getting tired. My bag was full of snacks from the other delis. I was craving the Ritz Bits I had picked up earlier.
I stop and talk to my dad on text in a little aisle that had some canned dolmas that were about to expire. Before I head out, I wish the man with the beanie on behind the counter a happy new year.
He was really kind and stood up and wished me the same. I ask him if he has any hopes for the new year. He shared with me that he is from India and that he worked in the film industry over there. (You longtime readers know and remember I am a HUGE Bollywood fan). He shares with me his very legit IMDb page. He tells me he went to film school, and he will be submitting two films to some festivals in the upcoming year. I ask him what they are about and whether they are funny. “They are serious,” he tells me. It’s clear to me he is very courageous and passionate about what he does.
He asks me if I am in media, as I shared with him that I had been a cricket reporter in college and that is how I know some of the Indian actors he tells me about. I tell him I work as an attorney for a nonprofit, and we share some jokes about the fact that I am a poor attorney, not the big bucks kind. We return to the topic of passion being the driving force for what one does.
On the back of a receipt, I write down my blog page and wish him all the best with his film submissions. If you are reading this, new friend, I wish you all the luck in the world with your projects! Keep striving.
I come to a deli where four men are having a powwow in the entrance. “You gonna place an order?” one asks me. “Just looking,” I say as I grab a kombucha from the fridge. I scan it for a price. I walk over to the register. A kid, no older than 18, rings me up.
“Happy new year,” I tell him.
“Thanks, you too,” he tells me.
“Any hopes and dreams for the new year?” I ask him.
He counts my change and hands it to me. “I want to be in shape,” he tells me. I notice the two men next to us have quieted down and are invested in our conversation.
“Health is important,” I say lifting the kombucha bottle and smiling. I chuck it into my bag. I hear the Ritz Bits pack. Damn, I crushed the crackers, I think.
“Happy new year,” every single man in the entrance tells me as I walk out.
“Happy and healthy new year to all of you,” I tell them as I put my sunglasses back on.
I walk into this deli. Two guys from Honda are there on break. One lady with blonde frizzy curls asks for a tuna melt. “Not too much tuna,” she says very seriously to the very pretty woman behind the counter who nods solemnly.
“Happy new year,” I announce to all. I feel like Santa Claus or something, at this point. Everyone turns and wishes me a happy new year. I ask them what they hope for the new year.
One Honda mechanic looks at me and pushes up his blue baseball cap with his weathered brown hand, “Listen, if you ask me, we need to embrace wherever we are going. I don’t know where the hell that is, but I am embracing it, you know?” he says.
I nod. The other Honda mechanic chimes in as he approaches the counter to grab some homefries he ordered, “We have lost too many people this past year. I will be happy if I just make it to the next year. I just want to make it.”
“I am sorry for any of your personal losses,” I tell him. The blonde tuna melt lady is micromanaging the guy making her sandwich. I turn my attention to the woman behind the counter who is watching the sandwich debacle. “What about you?” I ask her as I hand her change for my roll. They are out of bagels. I give her some dimes. She gives me one back because I gave her too much.
“I accomplished a lot this past year. You know what helped me? Writing everything down. I made a ton of plans, and I made them happen,” she says to me with a proud smile.
“I love that. I do that too,” I tell her, sifting my coins into my small wallet.
“I need to sit down and write my list,” she says to me. She hands me my roll, and I thank her.
Off I go, to make my list. We are alive. We made it.
It’s time to make things happen.