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Sloane Crosley on the Bodegas of the Upper West Side

In honor of Bodega Week, we asked writers to tell us about their favorite New York City bodega experiences. First up, author Sloane Crosley.

There was a bodega across the street from my first apartment in the 70's on Columbus and it was one of the more nicely-kept small bodegas I've ever seen. They were no dummies either -- they put their ATM machine directly next to the ice cream and beer. But the guys who worked there were downright gruff. More than once I'd have to wait behind another customer while the customer and the cashier had some kind of knock-down-drag-out fight over something nonsensical. Once a girl asked for a pack of cigarettes but immediately realized she had bought the wrong brand. She hadn't even stepped away from the counter but the guy behind the counter wouldn't giver her her money back or an exchange. My roommate had his own set of gripes with them, appearing in my room holding up an apple. "Guess what this is?" he'd say. Before I could ask "what?" he'd shout, "a mealy fucking apple from the goddamn bodega!" I told him he should really stop buying his fruit there.
I assumed all bodegas were like this. That they all treated you like crap because, frankly, you started it. People don't walk into bodegas and demand cookies the way they walk into Ladurée and demand cookies. Then I moved a few blocks north and for the next seven or so years lived across from Bodega Heaven on 73rd and Columbus. It was smaller and somehow more disorganized but possessed the ability to read my mind. Magically, if I thought "I need Woolite, beer, Mentos and saffron," they would have all of these things. I was always greeted with a smile, their flowers were the best and there were Korean soap operas playing 24-7. Once I had a moderately reasonable conversation with the women who worked there about the markup on individually sold Sunkist fruit gems. One day I found myself behind a customer arguing with the woman behind the counter. She looked familiar and I realized it was the same girl I had sided with (via eye contact) years ago. I guess she still lived in the neighborhood as well. I don't know what they were arguing about but I know my first thought was: What a bitch.
?Sloane Crosley
· All Bodega Week 2012 coverage [Curbed]