From the Left



Nothing Much That's Good for You

Marc Munroe Dion on

You could say he fell in the middle of the store because the store is so small that nearly every part of it is in the middle.

But the store is not in the middle of the block. It's on a corner. Where else would you open what has always and forever been called a "corner store"?

And the windows are covered with paper ads for off-brand cigarettes, and the state lottery has a sign up in the place telling you to call if you have a gambling problem. And there are 21 separate varieties of lottery tickets sold. Soon, it'll be time for happy Frosty the Snowman and jolly old St. Nick to start showing up on the tickets.

The store sells nothing much that's good for you, and if it does, that's not where it makes most of its money.

Baloney. Frozen pizza. Quarts of that cheap ice cream that's mostly air. One brand of everything except for the huge array of cigarettes. Cheap, little toys made of bright plastic that break on the walk home. Candy. A jar full of incense sticks. The label on the side of the incense jar says "Midnight Love." Half a shelf of disposable diapers because midnight love has consequences. Soda, the tough full sugar stuff in grape and orange and coconut, far overshadowing the few cowering bottles of juice. Nothing much that's good for you. No fresh vegetables. No "artisan" anything. Mass-produced sugar, salt, tobacco and the long odds lottery ticket called "Set for Life."

You come to America from another country, shaky hands rolling the dice in your head. You buy one of these stores. You do 20 years behind the counter, selling sugar, salt, tobacco and long odds lottery tickets, you can wind up half rich, parking a Mercedes out in back of the store.


The guy who owned this store got gunned out a few nights ago by a robber the police say is light-skinned with a tattoo on the back of one hand.

Nothing more.

Where did the store owner come from? Does it matter? Another brown-skinned man with a smile, making sure the drunk or high customers don't forget their keys or wallets in the counter. A name you couldn't pronounce from a county you can't find on the map.

"Is that near Iraq?" some chatty junky would ask the owner. "My cousin was in Iraq."


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