Archive for the 'familiar stranger' Category

at the laundry

It’s very early. The warm air is full of dew. The place is empty, and almost elegant now that it is stripped of the bright fabrics and plastic bottles and bored women. Only the man who runs it is there, passing a load of whites from a metal cart into a dryer. There’s a radio on, in Chinese. The man comes over to weigh my bag. Then the radio switches to English, but it’s not a radio after all, it’s a language lesson. “When-will-the-car-be-ready?” The soothing voice asks three times, each with a different inflection. Then another round, Chinese and back to English: “I-am-ready-to-face-tomorrow.”


down the block

There’s a round woman who sits all day on her stoop. She’s the age of a young grandmother, maybe. She’s round and she smiles and watches the people cross her view. When I pass by I always say hello to her. She looks at me for a long moment, and then the corner of her eyes crinkle and she squeaks a kiss at me. It feels like a blessing.

on the corner

Me and that drug dealer, we say hello all the time. He’s management, you can tell because he’s never drunk on the job. This time I walk by and one of his boys says, “got a fine ass on her.” The dealer thwacks the boy’s hat off his head and says, “don’t talk about her like that, she NICE.”