I was at Fatslice first thing this morning, and couldn’t resist taking a portrait of our best customer.
This is Rajah, or at least that’s what he says his name is. We open at 10:30. Every morning, he is in front of the store by 10, begging passersby for change. The moment we open, he’s the first customer.
He has a slice of veggie pizza and a beer. Another beer. And a third beer, to get himself ready to face the day.
He’ll be back a couple of times during the day, depending on his success at cadging quarters from the locals. He likes our pizza and loves his Budweiser.
Rajah is from Bombay. He came here in 1981, and used to have a job as a waiter. Or bus boy. The story changes. He tells me that he is going back to India next year, but I don’t think I’ll hold my breath.
Besides alcoholism, I think Rajah has some other problems. I’ve seen him sitting and tapping his nails at a table for a very long time. Other times he is picking at his hands. He often will have a $10 or $20 bill, so perhaps there is another source of meager income besides begging, but I don’t think he has enough to pay rent; he appears to be homeless.
Although he says he has been here over 30 years, his accent is exceedingly thick. We don’t exactly discuss the events of the day, but I don’t get the impression that he’s too bright–he has just enough smarts to survive, but not to prevail.
This isn’t going anywhere, I don’t have some great moral point to make. Life is good for many of us, but even those at the bottom seem to find a way to have a life and a routine. I just wanted to share his story with you, and I liked the photo.
I was lucky enough to work a day at Fatslice with the proprietor’s grandson — my nephew. Rajah came in and followed the routine Chris describes in his post. Rajah was very kind to us, but so am I to the barrista who makes my Americano — you should see me three hours later. At least Rajah does order a slice or two to hold down those beers.
picture I found…