She takes the money first before serving clients, always. Such shrewd practice is dictated by experience. Some customers after receiving their order will start searching through pockets or wallets, and sometimes on purpose fail to locate the money for payment. Since every order is an amalgam of sorts to each customer’s taste, unpaid orders cannot be taken back. The best recourse is to agree to the customer’s promise to pay on the next visit. Often, such debtor customers do not show up and divert to buying from competitors. She also inspects notes for authenticity by holding them up to look for the airplane emblem, and also for wear and tear.
Crook counterfeit mafias engage is bustling trade peddling their fake wares to the unwary in the fringe markets. Often times they use unsuspecting children as couriers with the promise of candies and change. They come to the market and pass the fake notes to children on errands to procure one thing or the other for them. Their main aim is not the item to be bought but the change that they can get in genuine currency through the exchange of a fake higher denomination. From a vantage point they watch the errand children execute the purchase transaction. If successful they collect the change and make the children keep the purchase as booty. If from their lookout they see the transaction run into trouble through detection of the fraudulent currency they vanish into thin air.
But since Jonny is in her good books and I obviously look genuine and neat, the seller does not subject me to scrutiny. Instead, she places me on the table and proceeds to package Jonny’s order.
Suddenly, a blast of wind blows me off the table like a feather and I am floating in the air across the busy street. I cannot resist the strength of the wind, and even if I can I won’t resist it: I am happy to be free and flying like a bird over the heads of people and cars. I now know I can fly, something I did not know before. But actually I am in the same shape as the large wing on an airplane. So I continue flying to an unknown destination. Flying, flapping, soaring…..
I hear the woman scream and break out in a run. For someone of her bulk she exhibits the nimbleness of a cheetah as she runs blindly into the street beneath me. A taxi-cab horns frantically, and comes to a screeching halt as the startled woman is hit by the front bumper and thrown onto the hood of the car.
But nothing stops me as I continue my inflight journey across the four-lane street. I am thinking now I am a bird soaring on wings over land, sea and air. But alas, soon I begin to lose floatation and eventually drop to the ground as the wind abates. I fall on the pedestrian walkway on the opposite side of the road from the transit station. Meanwhile, I can hear the commotion on the opposite side of the street and sirens shrieking as the police raced to the scene of the accident. I can hear the woman’s verbal outburst directed at the taxi driver for speeding in a pedestrian-crossing zone. I am relieved; apparently no serious damage has been done to her and she can go back soon to serve Jonny. I visualize Jonny still starving, and my sympathy goes to him. I can almost hear the protesting wailing churns emanating from his flabby stomach.
But my sympathy shifts from hungry Jonny to myself when I feel footsteps walk over me. The feel of being trampled upon continues for a while, and then suddenly someone yanks me off the ground and puts me into a pocket. The pocket is dark and smelly. Soon a hand picks me out of the pocket and holds me up for examination. There is joy in the greedy eyes of the man when he determines that I am the genuine thing. I smell alcohol in his breadth and see the bleached lips; all signs of addiction to moonshine. The man puts me into the breast pocket of his shirt which, thankfully, is not as smelly as the pants pocket. When I reemerge from the pocket I realize that we are in a liquor shop.
The ambience is dark and the aroma hits your nose and sends you into a daze as if you’re on the stuff yourself. I wonder how the shopkeeper is able to endure such a working environment, but she looks sturdy as if inured over time. She is an elderly woman in her mid-sixties with wrinkles on the forehead, sunken cheeks and red eyes. She knows her customer’s needs, for without asking she pours some liquid into a glass and hands it over the counter. In return the man hands me over the counter to the woman who pulls open a drawer and drops me into it. There are other notes and even coins in a disorganized manner, and I fall on top of some coins. The shopkeeper picks up some coins and hands them over to man as change, as he stands behind the counter gulping down the liquor. My vanity is aroused: I am worth much more than those hard coins that look strong and durable!
Before she slams the drawer shut, I hear the belching of the man as the liquor burns through his throat. Afterwards, I hear the receding sound of footsteps as he shuffles out of the liquor store. I wonder if he will get safely home in that drunken stupor, and if I am not complicit in his insobriety by serving as the fortuitous medium of exchange for the liquor. But, if he needs to get drunk he will do so anyway; beg, borrow or burglarize. I have probably saved him from one of those unpleasant options. My conscience thus assuaged, I settle down to wait what fate next has in store for me.