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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The vendor

     The hot dog stand at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets in New York City is a deluxe brand new shiny cart. The chrome is polished to sparkle and gleam, the glass surrounding the hot dog rolls is crystal clear with no fingerprints.

     The vendor is a man in his twenties maybe from Greece or Croatia or Italy,  I really can't tell.
He too is clean, his face has a clean shave and his clothing is clean, jeans and a short sleeved button down shirt in summer, a cargo coat and hat in winter.

     No one really speaks with him, just the usual hello, hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut or two hot dogs with onions and a soda, maybe a thank you after being served.

    He has mastered the art of removing the bun from the package with a waxed tissue then using a two tined fork he searches the hot water for a dog, stabs it shaking off the excess water then slides it into the bun and dresses it as ordered.

     When someone orders a soda he leans over to reach into the bin with the ice and cans of soda, with his bare hand he reaches around until he finds what the customer has ordered and pulls the can out and hands it to the customer.

     There is a large umbrella that covers much of the cart and some of the vendor. He has no seat to sit on. He stands there from mid morning when he and his cart are dropped off by truck until all his hot dogs are sold or until the truck returns to pick him and his cart up. He does not own the cart, he works the station for someone else.

     What is remarkable about this young man is his hands. They are red  raw and swollen, winter summer spring and fall. They are not the same color as his complexion which is light with fair skin and sandy brown hair. His hands almost are the color of red balloons with no hair and no wrinkles, swollen fingers with the palms the same color and smoothness as the backs of his hands. He stands there and waits until someone comes to buy a hot dog or soda with always the same look on his face. It says nothing, it speaks no whisper of his life or his circumstances, no image of where he lives. The anonymous man who sells hot dogs.

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