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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Philanderers with Fruiterers

There was a fruit vendor on the corner near my office. The fruit and pricing was good and the location very convenient, so my coworkers and I soon developed a relationship as regulars.

Relationships have certain key elements. Mutual trust, respect, and love. Fulfilling mutual needs. Responsibilities and obligations. A fruit vendor relationship is no different. Often, however, there is a price to pay for the conveniences found in New York City.

Our vendor was a small and frail man from Pakistan, and we soon referred to him as "the little man." He was very poor and spent long days in the hot summer sun. We all liked supporting him. Our fondness for him grew. However, like many relationships, there were problems and the relationship became strained.

Things were pleasant as long as we purchased the quantity he wanted us to buy. If we wanted a half pound of cherries, too bad - he refused to sell less than a pound. When we asked for a pound, one and a quarter was put on the scale, and it was suggested we take two. This was four times what we really wanted. And did we want some nice bananas or peaches to go with the cherries? His recommendations were in his hand and being added to our bag, only to be stopped by virulent protest.

We soon wearied of the daily battles defending our fruit needs and consumption. We could no longer trust him, he had no respect for us, and our love for him had faded. No need for counseling. We were looking for divorce or at least a trial separation.
Separation, however, was not so easy. Walk by the fruit man and expect to be greeted, or should I say apprehended. Why didn't we want any fruit today?

We were in the worst breakup scenario where, due to circumstances, both parties are forced to continue to make daily contact. Like coworkers or neighbors who have had an affair.
We found ourselves crossing the streets to avoid him and hiding food purchases from him as best we could. But he was crafty and observant, often hailing us from afar and offering our favorite fruit. But we were steadfast in our avoidance. We had no desire to become like victims of battered spouse syndrome who become trapped in abusive relationships.

He became angry. Were we seeing someone else? Yes, we were. No use hiding it any longer. He knew our dirty secret. And although the relationship was over for us, in his mind, we were nothing but philanderers with fruiterers :(

About the photo: A real instance of philandering with fruiterers. I patronized this second man for years, however, I now typically shop for fruit with other needs at larger nearby markets. I still buy from him on occasion. I am sure he knows I am cheating, but he is always pleasant. Some tolerate philandering better than others :)


Luis Gomez said...

Love your story.

Mirela said...

I'm not surprised you "divorced" the little man. I would've done it too. Is the fruit from a fruit stand better than in larger markets?

Brian Dubé said...

Luis - Thanks. I'm glad you liked it - I love it too :)
Mirela - sorry to say it is better. Fruit on the street carts and markets varies a lot. Price is not always a barometer either.

Anonymous said...

I know this guy, i do a lot of moves, basement clean outs, furniture disposal, dump and recycling in downtown manhattan and buy fruit from these guys, its always fresh. the guy in the pic who you refer to is named Mustafa, he's not from pakistan, he's turkish.

He's also not poor or frail.

He's in great shape too.

I say hello when ever we drive past him on bleecker street in greenwich village.

I notice he's got a lot of friends in the neighborhood, old folks, moms, kids, business men, maids, nannys, messengers, cops, drug dealers, homeless, etc.


Brian Dubé said...

Anonymous - yes I know this man is from Turkey - this is not the man from Pakistan I referred to in the story. He was located at Spring Street and Broadway.

Steffe said...

Another interesting story of a complex character. I have two or three places were I buy fruit a couple of times every week, and I have a special price so i never have to wait in line.

Kenon Thompson said...

This was an awesome read Brian!