Saturday, April 10, 2010

in praise of the fishmonger

The guy who sells me fish at Whole Foods Market is always so nice to me.

It's not always the same guy. It's not always at the same market. At the WF around the corner from my folks house in Cincinnati, I asked the guy about the quality of a fish, and he gave me a free sample to take home and cook, and said if I liked it that I should come back and buy enough for the family. Once, the guy behind the counter at the market in my 'hood--he had a kind of french accent?--told me I had beautiful hands, really long fingers.

This morning, I was standing in front of the case, gazing at the fish and feeling sorry for myself because my honey's away, and thinking maybe it might be nice to make something tasty for me, so that dinner for one isn't such a grim proposition. The guy walked up. Tall, white, in glasses and a hat, and overalls that looked like they might have been hip-waders for what I could see. He asked me a question, but it took me a good ten seconds or so to realize that he was looking at and talking to me.

I asked for a half pound of 16-20 count shrimp.

"You got big plans for the weekend?"

"No, my fiance just left town so it's just me. Probably just stay close to home, clean, take it easy."

"Where'd he go?"

"Home to see his family?"

"Where's home?"
"Ohio... no place special."

He paused, grabbing shrimp with a plastic bag. "I've had a couple of good meals in Ohio. When are you getting married?"

There was more small talk and after he'd wrapped my purchases, I continued on my way. But I was genuinely astonished that the guy behind the fish counter would take any interest in me, as a person, even just to chat to about the weather or what's new.

This isn't about being flirted with by some strange guy. It's about... my roommate used to say that sometimes she'd forget that people could actually see her and would be surprised when someone would speak to her, would chisel through the reality she was living in. Lately my world has been about shadows in the room transforming themselves into things that may not be there; I don't trust my own perception of very much right now. It was just nice for someone to chisel through the reality I'm living in, to speak to me like he sees what I see.

I don't know what WF does for their employees, but the people who sell me fish are always the kindest and most engaged grocers I've encountered. It's a real pleasure.

1 comment:

Friend of Fish said...

Seafood teams have less employees than any other team in the store, so generally only a few people work each day. This means a single person is "on deck" at any given time; their shift-mate is in back prepping stock or placing an order. The person who is serving you is a fish geek with no place to go, and has been presented with an intelligent individual.

You may be the highlight of their day.