Monday, January 21, 2008

Bob's your uncle

Saturday at the gym I was surfing channels and stumbled on one of the network morning news shows, which are so much better on weekends when they are not trying so hard. The segment was on hairstyles, titled "the bob is back!" with mini-makeovers from three everyday women going from long hair to a short, chin-length bob. My weeks and months of boredom and frustration with my own hair culminated in that moment and I vowed to make an appointment for my own cut at the local hair stylists which I'd pass on my way home. Do you know how long it has been that a ponytail has been my daily, bored, boring go-to look?

And now my hair is too short for a ponytail. That was, of course, the whole point. I've had this haircut before, and I know it will grow back, but it is strange to have a whole box of hair accessories and have no need for most of them. I can't decide if I really like the look though. Of course I don't look like Katie Holmes (and just by typing that, I open myself up to random blog searches), but I didn't before, when both of us had longer hair, so why would I now?

* * *

There is this young guy who works in the Korean market down the block, mostly on nights and weekends. I imagine he is a son or nephew or other relative of the proprietors - not just because it seems to be common culturally, but because he has the relaxed confidence of someone who is related to the boss. He's very friendly, has told me about how hard it is to work and go to school, and regularly teases me about my attempts to always pay with exact change.

Lately, though, he has taken to rounding down the cost of my purchases. At first it was just charging me $2 for a $2.19 bottle of soda, but once he rang up a few items for a total of $7.68, then hit a few keys again and it shot back down to $7.00 even. I don't know why it makes me uncomfortable. I don't think he knows about the incident that happened there; he wasn't working that day and he's never made any reference to it, so I don't think he's thanking me in any way (for what?)

But I have started to be a bit uncomfortable about it. We're not really friends, I don't even know his name, and he knows little about me other than I have a thing for caffeine-free Diet Coke, baby carrots, cottage cheese, and Toffee Peanut Buzz Clif Bars. Yet I can't believe he's flirting with me (I could be older than his mother.) I guess I could say something next time, like "you don't have to do that," but I wouldn't want to offend him, either, and so I've found myself going into one of the other similar stores on my way home, and then I feel really guilty walking past.

* * *

In front of the same store, there is usually a man - a homeless man? I don't know. It seems like he has some kind of arrangement with the store, standing out front as if he's guarding the flowers and things out there, although I've never seen him watering or filling the plastic barrels with fresh flowers.

And, yet, he never asks for money, like similar men posed in front of the other bodegas. He doesn't even hold an empty cup or jar. For years I've walked by him, and I am nearly positive I've seen other people give him money, but I can't be sure.

Now, since the "incident," when he came inside the store to see that all was okay while I was calling 911, he has started to greet me with a friendly "hello" and smile each time I pass. And so I say "hi" in return, always wondering, would he be insulted if I gave him money?


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