Ms. CRANKY'S HAT, well, one of them

Ms. CRANKY'S HAT, well, one of them

Friday, July 27, 2012


Ms. Cranky loves a good bodega, those little stores all over the city with either bright red and yellow signs or paler, faded-looking signs.  Cranky doesn’t know if the latter signs are bought faded (like, it’s the style) or they become faded.  She’d like to think the latter.
Bodegas have all the little odds and ends one needs from newspapers to snacks to an ice cold bottle of water.  Where Ms. Cranky taught this spring in East New York, there was a shiny clean bodega that even had a small butcher in the back.  They’re usually family-owned and operated.  There is often a cat, whether legal or not.  Neighbors and family members hang out talking; sometimes they sit at a table in the back and play cards or dominos.  A bodega is a cherished New York City institution, so when Ms. Cranky heard that over 100 brand new shiny ‘7-11’s’ were going to open in the city, she felt heartsick.
There’s nothing wrong with a ‘7-11’ (maybe, out on the highway would be nice!). They’re bright and fluorescent-lit and seemingly clean but they’re A CHAIN, a huge chain, and, though you can get very nice staff, they’re not family-run, they’re not intimate, they’re not different one from another and there will be no one playing cards in the back and certainly no cat sitting on the cash register.  Latter story below:
Once there was a wonderful Korean bodega-deli in Brooklyn (‘bodega’ was once used for stores run by Spanish people but is now universally used for all small marts, no matter what nationality). In that wonderful friendly shop, the cat sat on top of the cash register and the two twinkly brothers who ran the place often seemed to not want to move her so they could make their transactions.  The place was on a once very rough corner where Cranky waited for the bus.  It was considered then the most dangerous corner in Brooklyn (now, of course, it’s ‘trendy’).  So, Ms. C. was always glad for respite from her bus wait and the brothers sold single roses for one dollar and Ms. Cranky loved to get one to take home.
But, the real story of this place is that when the two brothers decided to return to Korea after 35 years in business here (to care for their older brother), the neighborhood was bereft.  Because, besides the cat sitting on the cash register and the lovely single roses, the two had been feeding for all those years many a needy person.  They never announced it, no one knew, but when they got ready to leave the area, word got out and there were all these wonderful well-deserved newspaper articles about them. 
Maybe Cranky’s wrong, she hopes she is; maybe the ‘7-11’s’ won’t cause hurt to the bodegas, delis, mini marts, she so treasures but when she read that first article about the chain moving in, it was presented as a big threat so she’s worried and wonders if anyone else is? 
Quality of life is not about bright and shiny, we all know that.

Thanks for stopping by.  Ms. Cranky hopes you have a wonderful weekend and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject of this column.  Ms. Cranky, though everyone knows she’s cheap, err, frugal, has always tried to support small stores as much as she can --- because she likes them, because they’re a comfort, because you can buy one onion when you need it and because people smile and wonder how you are and where you’ve been and there’s usually a cat she can call by name and, sometimes, pet.

Ms. Cranky, Friday, July 27, 2012, Brooklyn, NY --- slightly cooler, rough storms yesterday, hope everyone’s okay.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Ms. Cranky was riding down from the hallowed Adirondack Mountains where she goes to a Writer’s Retreat each year.  She was still in a wonderful mood and determined to hold onto it.  She had decided that when she got home, she wouldn’t check email or phone messages for a few days.  She would try to stay in this wonderful, as she imagined it to be, ‘Zen-like’ mode.
In the last few years coming out of the Adirondacks, Ms. Cranky has gotten a ride to the train station in Albany from her cabin-mate, Jane and that gives them time to talk as Jane uses her time in the mountains to truly write because she has a full time job at home and not much time for writing.  Ms. Cranky’s myriad of part time jobs, however, are ‘fluffier’ than her cabin-mate’s and don’t really interfere with her writing.
So, they were riding along chatting away when, out of nowhere and in a road repair area with Jane going exactly as fast as she was allowed to drive according to the signs came this guy in a black SUV (thanks for contributing to our warm air, buddy boy) and he rode on the tail of Jane’s car (and, Jane is a calm type compared to Ms. C. but even she got upset).  This jerk generally terrorized us for several miles and when we finally got out of the repair zone, he made it a point to ZOOM fast around us, pass us in the right lane and look over and gloat in our direction.  Ms. Cranky hollered a few unsacred, not Adirondacky, words at this bozo and slowly it seeped in what might be ahead for her in the so-called ‘real world.’
Ms. Cranky bid her lovely cabin-mate goodbye at the Albany Amtrak station, a place she loves, a beautiful bright new train station.  And, she was, once again, in a lovely what-she-thinks-is a Zen mountain mood when she got directions from a very attractive and affable conductor and boarded the train. 
Cranky admits to carrying a lot and she was just starting down the aisle with a myriad of bags and pulling a suitcase when this lovely-‘looking’ mature couple came in through the side door.  They actually had gray and white hair, he even looked distinguished but, just as Cranky was starting to walk down the aisle to get a seat, they cut her off, did a ‘vee’ formation (ala subway behavior) and traipsed up the aisle ahead of her!
Was Cranky suddenly invisible?   She might have been very slightly slimmer from all her walking and swimming but she was 5 6/12 and not exactly teeny, if you get her drift. 
         Then, to add to her upset, as Cranky followed behind these people, the man with white hair, stood and stood and stood some more blocking the aisle, trying to decide where to put his bags, talking to the woman, all smiling.  They must not have been married, Cranky surmised, as he seemed to be really trying to impress her.  But, he was not impressing Ms. Cranky and, in fact, looked at her waiting with all her bags held aloft and totally ignored her a few more times!
Cranky was just about SNORTING by now.  Perhaps, she truly was invisible.  Maybe something weird had happened up in the mountains.  But, mostly she was hurt and surprised.  This was only Albany but, as she thought about it later, they were heading to New York.  They might, she feared, be ‘New Yorkers.’  Welcome back, Ms. Cranky.  Welcome back to being ignored and demeaned.
Cranky would like to re-live this whole incident over again but she was in too good a mood at the time and taken off guard.  In hindsight, Cranky’d love to have said when the man and woman vee-ed in front of her, then clogged up the aisles like, forever --- “Hey, I’m here too and I was just starting to go down the aisle.  Can you really not see me???  Or, are you just pompous idiots?”
It was just a ‘little murder’ of the soul but little murders add up.  And, besides, and this is very hard to say, the ‘couple’ got the last good window for Ms. Cranky’s favorite train trip, along the Hudson.  Cranky’s window was a mere slit but sometimes she ventured back to the other train car and found a free seat next to a full window.  She might have been hurt and ignored but she couldn’t let this time and the lovely view go, no never, first things first!

Hey, thanks, as always, for stopping by.  It’s good to be home.  Ms. Cranky loves our city and her borough but some rude behaviors get to her.  Her neighborhood was delightful to see again.  Her ‘morning’ glories across from the subway exit were out at night.  The air had, thankfully, cooled the last few days and her cat was waiting for her by the door.
What more could one want? --- A brilliant Writer’s Retreat in the beauty of the majestic mountains and morning glories at night? 
Well, a little thoughtfulness added in would be nice, especially, on the part of a middle-aged couple who should have known better.

Come again.  Ms. C., July 24, 2012

Monday, July 9, 2012


Two small events happened that put Ms. Cranky in a good mood.  One is an ongoing one but one she doesn’t always get to participate in when she’s not working ‘regular,’ like 9-5 hours and that is the nice people who pass out the free papers at the subway stations.  Where do they train them?  Where do they get these people?  The papers are, of course, the METRO and AM  NY.  The METRO guy at Ms. Cranky’s local subway station is real pleasant but Cranky hadn’t seen this guy as she works at lot of very odd jobs with funny time frames --- walk the dog at midnight?  Sure, sure.  Work the polls from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. --- hey, why not???  Friday night babysitting, Saturday afternoon cat sitting, so this morning was the first Cranky had seen the newspaper guy in a long while and he was, once again, charming and smiling like Ms. Cranky was the best thing he could imagine seeing and when he handed her the paper, he wished her not a good day but a ‘beautiful day,’ Ms. Cranky melted (but, of course, it was already 92 degrees at 7 a.m.) but, she literally, melted with good feeling.
This made Cranky recall the amazing woman at the Chambers Street “A” subway station who dispenses the AM paper.  She’s at the front of the train going into town right at Chambers St. and it’s worth the price of the ride just to meet her in the morning.  The woman’s there no matter how hot or cold and she dispenses her free papers with a smile and a ‘good morning’ and, once again, it feels like she’s genuinely delighted to see you and Ms. Cranky wonders why whoever trains these free paper crews couldn’t train some other, ahem, personnel who are not very personable where Cranky always wants to say --- “I’m so sorry I asked you a question, it must have really hurt you to answer!”   But, she rarely says things like that, not wanting to make a grouch any grouchier.  The latter people look when they direct their vision to you like they’ve maybe got a bad stomach ache and maybe they do. 
Then, Cranky attended this superb resume writing class at the Unemployment Office led by this wonderful teacher who teaches us the tricks of getting resumes across the complicated skein of computer programs.  Cranky took this as a repeat class as she found she needed to hear it again and the guy was great.   Ms. Cranky has found the unemployment people at this point in her life wonderful and supportive, unlike the first time she was laid off, back in Ronald Reagan’s reign of terror.  Then, and Ms. Cranky had never lost a job before so she cried a lot, the people who waited on her and her fellow citizens seemed to enjoy pouring more salt on your wounds.  Cranky used to go to the Unemployment Office and expect to see a shooting when someone would just lose it --- first by losing a job, then by being treated like scum by a bureaucrat with a regular income.  But, things have improved, at least in her local Brooklyn office where from Security Guard at the door straight through, everyone is helpful and welcoming.  It’s so easy to be nice and it has to be as easy as looking dyspeptic.
But, the second enhancement to Ms. Cranky’s good morning, well, maybe the third by the time she threw in the whole Unemployment staff, is such a simple thing but one that has made people so happy.
At a local bus stop where Cranky wiles away too much time, she takes public transportation all day and often night long, just two weeks ago, out of nowhere, --- no warning, no mention, no fanfare --- arrived one day a bench, a plain silvery bench, no back to it, nothing fancy but simply a bench near the bus stop that could sit 6 people if nobody’s too chubby.  And, this was the second time Cranky got to use it and  the second time the wonders of having this simple addition to one’s daily life sparked friendly conversation from other bench sitters who were thrilled, like thrilled, to have this city-borough-MTA-whatever gift dropped out of nowhere near the corner of Court Street and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.  Ms. Cranky knows that she is a push-over for small nice things but, about this bench, many people seem truly pleased. 
Ms. Cranky always says --- “It takes so little to make me happy” and it does so the gifts of the nice newspaper guy wishing her a beautiful day, the memory of  the other newspaper woman up in Manhattan making everyone feel welcome and good about themselves, the kind  and smart people at the Unemployment  Office--- who would have thought?  And, this simple, simple placing of a bench near a bus stop so we could sit a bit while we waited.  It takes so little, it really does.
Have a good day, evening, week, whatever.  Please feel free to write me any nice little tidbits about smiling people and brand new benches and I’ll put them in my column and, of course, give you credit!

Thanks, as always, for stopping by and please come again. 
Ms. Cranky, Monday, July 9, 2012