Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why I love my hood

Posted By on 11.16.11 at 04:25 PM

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I got home on Monday night to find a voice mail from my landlord, Rudy (he’s of eastern European descent). “Kate, I don’t have your rent check, and I’m worried I lost it—you’re always early. Will you call me, please?” As it happened, I’d run into some unforeseen circumstances and was two weeks behind—I’d been on my way down to the laundry room to finally pay him when I checked my messages. I called him to explain and apologize, and told him I’d included the $25 late fee. “Oh no, no, no, deduct it from your next check. You’re always early.”

I did wake uncharacteristically early on Tuesday, and went to the 7-Eleven on Glenwood to get some juice and a paper. On my way in I waved to the gray-bearded, turbaned Sikh behind the counter—I’m something of a regular—and when I went up to pay told him he worked too hard. “I always like it when you come in here,” he said. “Here, here is a free book I keep on hand for some of my customers.” And so I now possess a copy of Pearls of Sikhism.

That night I took the bus home from work, hungry, but not really in the mood to eat. Around 9 PM I settled on a trip to a taqueria on Morse Street, thinking, "maybe a few tacos and some comfort-food rice and beans?" At the taqueria a basketball-bellied Mexican guy warned me they were having trouble with the debit/credit machine. “Well, I have 12 bucks, and I want to leave a tip. Will that be enough?” He advised me to go to the money machine across the street while my food was being made.

When I came back, there was a slender black girl wearing bangles and heels also waiting for her order. “I like your bag,” she said of my utilitarian, rather beat-up cross-the-shoulder container for reading materials. “Is that Kenneth Cole?” No, I told her, it’s just a thing I bought in the Loop. We smiled at each other, her large gold earrings flashing. My tab was $5.79 plus tip. The mamacita cook’s rice and beans were consoling.

Later, through my apartment window, I heard a guy speaking animated Spanish into a cell phone, then two gospel-voiced girls singing “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” while clicking their way down the street.

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