Your hands and feet are mangos…

His hair had been shaved but was growing back so that the outline of his bald spot was apparent. Just at the top of his head grew two cowlicks swirling in opposite directions. The back of his head had three thinlined scars at different angles where his scalp remained visible. His body faced the sale table, however his eyes peered toward the back of the store and nowhere. He held a mango in his right hand and was waving it along with his left hand up and down in slow, almost methodical motions toward the produce section. Bach conducting a fruit orchestra through a medium. His knees bent to keep his balance.

The woman at the front of the line stole glances as the cashier behind the till swept her groceries into a bag with one hand and keyed in the prices with the other. When the woman had paid and left, he moved one step closer to the till and spied the freezer. His step toward it prompted the cashier to send another girl to retrieve his request.

“Sandwich. Klondike… please,” he said and moved back to the line. He continued his pronounced motions with his mango, but moved his left hand into his jacket pocket. He fondled several worn papers that emerged before looking down at his hand. His jacket was worn, too, but fit much better than his pants, which were way too long and baggy for his slight frame.

He took his left hand out of his pocket and pointed. “That’s chocolate… I’d like vanilla.”

The two workers spoke to each other and the younger one traded in the chocolate Klondike bar for a vanilla one. “Thanks,” he said.

The mangos are two for a dollar (I know because I buy them almost daily at that price) and so the cashier told him the final tally without taking the mango from his hand, which was still waving the fruit around.

I wondered if he had a knife to cut the mango but wondered if he should have a knife at all. He certainly didn’t seem violent, but his involuntary movements made me fear a little for him holding sharp objects. He paid for the mango and Klondike bar with change from his coat pocket and took the mango to his mouth. Inside his open mouth I noticed only a few broken and brown teeth, but with which he seemed adept at peeling the mango. I thought about getting mango pulp stuck between my teeth and why I use a knife to cut it into small pieces and realized he wouldn’t have the same problem.

As he walked out of the store (a store which deserves its own blog post) I thought about how civil the interaction was between him and the cashier, but wondered if I should be ashamed that I noticed how civil it was. He gave no reasons for the cashier to be rude but I have noticed businesses in different neighbourhoods refuse service to people acting strangely or obviously high. I have also witnessed a woman refused service in that particular store for being rude and belligerent.

I realized I was now at the front of the line.

“$8.59,” she said to me without emptying my basket.


About azlewis

I'm an academic living in the poorest neighbourhood in Canada. I also teach at a local seminary.
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