Sunday, March 29, 2015
One stop candy shop
It's a warm June afternoon and I'm sitting on the bench at the Pico station, waiting for the west-bound Expo Line.
He pushes a huge suitcase, strapped to a dolly with bungee cords. He's wearing baggy shorts and high-top sneakers and a ball cap, but it's the sunglasses I can't stop looking at. They are curved, bug-eyed, and the metal frame shines like a spindly golden cross across his face, catching the sun.
"One stop candy shop!" he says. "Gummi bears, red vines, Slim Jims, chips. Coke-cola, water." He tips back the dolly so the suitcase is on its back, and zips open the top flap.
Inside is a perfected sorted, organized display of snacks, candies, pens and pencils, cigarettes. Strapped to the top of the dolly is a hard-shelled cooler, inside are clear water bottles beaded with dew. "I got what you need."
The commuters peer in. One man buys a bag of chips. "Hey man, you out here everyday?
"I try to get out as much as I can," he says. "Keeping busy."
"I seen you down by Vermont the other day."
"I do what I can. The customers be looking for us here, they going back and forth, need a little sweet snack, a drink of water. I don't show up, they miss me."
The water looks cool and the day is hot. I speak up, "I'll take a water."
"Sure, miss. Want one with a lot of ice or just a little bit of ice?" He rummages in the cooler, plucks a nearly frozen bottle out, holds it up.
"I'll take one with just a little ice," I say, holding out my dollar bill.
He presents it with a flourish and a napkin. "Thank you!" It's cold and refreshing.
Then he zips up the bag, uprights the cart, and continues down the platform. "One stop candy shop! Red vines, beef jerky, cold water!"