OK I might do this everyday so that it shows my work, the good, bad, ugly and sometimes almost great. This was a post about Fairway, a store that just being two blocks from my coop played a big part in my life as it does every West Sider’s–well now there’s Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, but then….This post was written in December 2004. It’s just a slice of life.
Fairway’s a dirty, much loved and much hated grocery/produce/take-out store on Broadway in the Upper West Side. It has high quality food for a lower price than we are used to. You never know if you’re going to bump into or be bumped by a noted West Side celebrity, or a crazy person spouting verbiage at everybody or at one person in particular (me). Sometimes the noted celebrity will also be the crazy person.
For many years I would avoid it because crowds make me crazy, or I would go late at night when the store’s much less crowded, and many of the customers are Broadway and other stars. Since I’m really bad at spotting famous people they would have to be pointed out to me. Sometimes they’d be a little annoyed that I didn’t recognize them and introduce themselves to me.
As I said in a prior post, I can gauge my mood by how I react to the daytime crowds. Somehow Fairway can bring out the worst in many people. When somebody would joustle me, I would either apologize for being alive or scream at them. (It’s a Fairway game.) Though the person was the one who stepped on my feet, they would usually accept my “I’m sorry,” by screaming, cursing or saying something sarcastic.
If I would bump into somebody, and apologize the above would happen also.
In the past year for various reasons I’ve become a much calmer person. Therefore I usually find the antics that go on in Fairway amusing. Fairway’s also less crowded (though only a regular would notice that) because of the competition from Whole Foods, other more physically appealing stores, and especially Freshdirect which delivers food that’s ordered over the Internet. There’s a competition going on between the owners of Fairway and Freshdirect that I also find amusing.
Sometimes I still get crazed by Fairway during the day, and know then that I should go home, or somewhere peaceful, because the Upper West Side’s usually crowded, and I don’t want to be among crowds.
Mine is not an atypical reaction, though I’m probably the only person to have analyzed this in such depth. I don’t want to know what that says about me, and my thought processes. I only know that I no longer react when somebody bumps into me, or screams that I have bumbped into them. It would take a miracle not to bump into people as there is very little space between aisles, shopping carts, and people. It’s most people’s nightmare come true.
I usually enjoy watching people argue over space, the last Stonyfeld Caramel Yogurt (oh I’m the one that does that) and such other amazing things as the last purple garlic bulb. I have seen macho men reduced to sniveling and/or tears in Fairway, because somebody snatched something out their hand. Fairway’s competition at its meanest and Survivor has nothing over it.
Any 80 year old who can successfully shop at Fairway can win Survivor as it takes skill, careful planning, coordination and a host of other attributes to shop there and leave in one piece.
There’s just something about Fairway that brings out the worst in people who are usually logical and calm. Fairway’s an almost poetic symbol of the Upper West Side. It’s dirty and hostile seeming on the outside, yet when you take the food home, wash it and prepare it, it’s excellent. Not that people on the West Side are dirty–that’s a dumb metaphor.
The bouncers at the doors, and yes I mean bouncers as in a club, size everybody up before they go in. They only admit people who might go postal, and/or known liberals. They always let the old lefties from parents generation in, because they’re the best at the game.
I’ve never asked what they do with the conseratives, because frankly I don’t want to know.
As much as I tend to dislike Fairway I’d miss it if it were gone. It would also be very bad for the Upper West Side and Manhattan in general as people tend to get their hostility out in Fairway, not on the streets or at home.
If you think of Fairway as a sparring gym for the mind, you’re almost understanding it.