On my way from the metro to my office, I pass an old man and his fruit stand. Since I have been working here and walking past him, he says good morning to me every morning, good night every evening, and gives me a pleasant hello, how are you when I pass him at lunch. He seems to be a very nice old man, but my only beef with him is that he tends to want to talk too long. A walk-by conversation shouldn’t consist of more than three phrases total; this guy wants full-on chitchat at every opportunity. I recently started trying to beat him at his own game, only to discover that he either does not understand what I say to him, or that he’s just not listening (when I reply to his “good night” with a “same to you, did you have a nice day today?” he says “Good night” or just nods).
I buy fruit from him occasionally, but I have been trying to eat more fruit and since a fifty cent banana is a lot more cost effective than the $2.25 fruit salad from the coffee shop, I’ve been shopping from him more often. I think so far I have bought fruit from him ten times, but the quality of the fruit has been hit and miss. The first time I got grapes, and they were fantastic, then I got plums that were overripe to the point of nearly rotten, then I got a mealy apple, but other times the apples have been good. The bananas have been the exception, being big and perfectly ripe almost every time. Yesterday’s banana was great.
Today I went to buy a banana from him again, but they weren’t looking quite so good. They were covered in black spots, some were split open, others were bruised. I picked up one and gave it a gentle squeeze and it mushed in my hand. I picked up another and it fell off the stem. The fruit man has readied a bag for me, and is looking at me half expectedly, half confused as to why my fruit choice is taking so long. I finally decide that the pickings aren’t too good, so I’ll spring for the expensive fruit salad. Turning to walk away, he looks at me, looks at the bananas and kinda grunts, nudging his head forward. I say “eeh, no banana today”.
His face fills with concern and he asks me why. I said that the bananas today were no good. Yesterday they were okay, but today no good. I thank him and try to walk away. He demands to know what I mean by the bananas being no good, so I show him the bruised ones. And the split ones. He tries to sell me one that looks okay, but it happened to be one of the ones that fall off the stem (which happened as he was showing me how “good” it was). So then he goes for another one that is good, but this one is about four inches long. I said that I didn’t want to buy a little one so he says he’ll give it to me. I told him it was okay and that I didn’t want it. He offered me two, and I refused. Then he asked me how many I want. Bad fruit is bad fruit, I still don’t want it even if it’s free.
He asks me again how many I want, and I tell him again that I don’t want any since they’re all bad. He says he’ll go to his car and get more. I tell him not to worry, but he turns to go to the car anyway. I choose this opportunity to make a break for it, he turns and begs me again to give him a minute, and I thank him again and keep going. He starts yelling “WAIT” in a far less pleading, far more demanding voice and now I’m determined not to buy a banana. I yell back, “Don’t you yell at me” and turn away, headed to the coffee shop for my expensive fruit salad.
My droopy eyes have switched to a springy step. I feel awake and alive. I hope the bananas are better tomorrow.