Awkward Moment

18 Jun

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I get my groceries, usually, at the Associated Supermarkets on Amsterdam Avenue a few blocks northeast of my apartment. It’s not the best supermarket, but the prices are decent, the selection is solid and, most importantly, they deliver.

In Manhattan, where you’re walking and not driving to grocery stores, this is, obviously, extremely helpful. It’s really the main reason I go to Associated. It’s pretty much a cheaper version of Fresh Direct and one that allows me to pick out my groceries in person.

But here’s the thing: I never really gave any thought as to how the groceries actually got delivered. I go to the supermarket, put them in my cart, pay for them, leave the bags there, go back to my apartment, buzz the delivery guy up Seinfeld style about an hour later, take the bags from him, give him a tip, and process complete. I always kind of looked at it like a hot dog—a wonderful thing but one with a curtain you don’t want to see behind.

Yesterday I saw behind that curtain. I think I’m going to be carrying my groceries home for a while now.

I paid the bill yesterday as I normally do, informed the cashier that I’d like to do delivery. She packed up the bags, told her supervisor and he sent over the delivery guy. He read my address and said something to the cashier in spanish.

“Is anyone home in your apartment now?” she asked.

I told her no but that I was heading there now.

“K, so he’s going to go back with you,” she said.

Um, this was not part of the plan. Never have five blocks felt so long. 90-degree heat, me walking with empty hands, on my right an older dark skinned man pushing my $100 worth of food in a shopping cart and following my directions home. I tried to fall back a bit, make it seem like I wasn’t guiding a servant carrying my stuff. I called my brother and my mother in a desperate attempt to visually distance myself from the image I thought I might be portraying, but neither of them had time to talk. I tried talking to him but his English was not very good. So I just walked.

Now, it should be said: I am, by no means, attempting to disparage this man’s work. A job is a job, after all. So maybe I shouldn’t feel bad. Maybe this is how this man makes a living for a family and me feeling guilty and subsequently changing my habit of getting my groceries delivered would actually do more harm than good. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Eventually we arrived at my apartment and I decided to give him a really nice tip. In hindsight, I think this might actually be something that portrays the exact image I was trying not to. Or maybe the fact that I’m worrying more about the image it portrays is also an example of me falling into one of those traps.

These are all deeper questions for a different time. All I know now is that I’ve seen how the hot dogs are made.

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