by Melinda Gallo

Sono viziata al mercato

Today it was full carnevale mode at the mercato this morning. Lots of people were rushing around to the banconi (counters) to get fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and even confetti. Some of the venditori (vendors) were even dressed up in different costumes. I thought of bringing my camera to the mercato, but the weather was cold and grey.

Inside the building, I couldn't walk anywhere without bumping into lots of people. I found myself continually saying, "permesso" and "mi scusi." I picked a number at the macelleria (butcher shop) and decided that the wait at the gastronomia (cheese vendor) would be shorter.

As I stood at the bancone waiting my turn. When my number came up, the brother of the guy who usually helps me said, "Ti servirà lui" (he'll help you) as he pointed to his brother. I waited for the brother to finish up with his cliente (customer) and then asked me, "Ho messo due litri di latte da parte per te. Li vuoi?" (I put two liters of milk aside for you. Do you want them?) And when I said, "Sì, grazie." He responded, "Torno subito." (I'll be right back.)

For the first time, I saw him leave the bancone and walk off somewhere toward the middle of the building. When he returned, he was carrying a crate full of milk bottles with my two, which were alta qualità (high quality), on top. I love our latte di alta qualità because I think it tastes better and it seems to work better when we steam the milk for our caffè latte in the morning.

I wished him a buona domenica and said, "Alla prossima!" (See you next time!) I rushed back to the macelleria to make sure I didn't lose my spot while trying not to knock anyone over. Luckily, there were still a few people ahead of me.

My macellaio (butcher) was working today and I hadn't seen him on Thursday. He was at one end of the bancone and I was at the other end. He walked toward me to get some carne macinata (ground beef) out of the display case and whispered, "Vieni dall'altra parte e ti servo io." (Come to the other side and I'll help you).

I smiled at him and made my way to the other side of the bancone. Many of the customers were continually looking at the numbers in their hands and then up at the electronic display.

I knew from my stint at the gastronomia that even if my number came up, I'd wait for my macellaio. And then, my macellaio called out my number. "Preciso," he said as we both smiled at each other. How lucky that my number would be called by my macellaio.

This time, instead of telling me how much I owed him, he just took my twenty Euros bill and returned five back to me. I saw on the scale that I owed him almost eighteen, but he likes to give me discounts all the time.

Today I had the time to look at the other customers that were being helped by my two favorite venditori and I realized that many people are very matter-of-fact with them. Not many people say much more than per favore and grazie.

Many of them look over at me as I smile and talk with my venditori. Some people, I guess might not find it common to be so friendly with them, but I probably also go more often to the mercato than some of them who might only go on Saturdays. I'm fortunate enough to live only a few blocks away and can go any day of the week.

I enjoy talking to all of the venditori I know at the mercato. I never leave without wishing them a buona giornata or a buona domenica on Saturdays. I know that everyone at the mercato works very hard: they start at 6AM and don't stop until 3PM Monday to Saturday. So, by the time I arrive at around noon, I know they are probably tired.

And for my small gestures of kindness, I get treated exceptionally well...and some might say that I am viziata (spoiled).

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