This morning I got a nice, wide cut on my thumb and realized I was out of Band-Aids. On a Saturday—Shabbat—few stores would be open, so I shmeared some Bacitracin on the cut, hoped for the best, and headed out the door toward the weekly dancing at Gordon Beach. On Yarkon Street, a few blocks short of my destination, lo and behold, one little market was open. With the displays of tangerines, candy bars, toys and flip-flops, Band-Aids seemed an unlikely commodity, but with my thumb whimpering pitifully, I had to try.
Inside, the proprietor stood chatting with a fellow in Arab garb. They stopped talking and looked up. “Excuse me, do you have Band-Aids?” Their faces fell ever so slightly. “Or maybe just one Band-Aid that you could give me?” “Hassan,” snapped the proprietor, and with a mere toss of his head sent his jalabiya-clad friend scurrying toward one of the shelves. Shading his eyes, Hassan craned to see the upper shelves. “Down, down!” shouted the proprietor, and Hassan dropped his gaze. From the lowest shelf he selected two boxes and brought them back to the cash register.
“I’ll take the little one, thanks,” I exclaimed eagerly. The proprietor picked up the box, opened it, and began to take out a Band-Aid. “No, no, it’s okay, I can buy the whole box!” He looked up and our eyes met. Pausing for a moment, an inscrutable expression on his face, he methodically extracted two Band-Aids and proffered them with an outstretched arm. “Oh no, really… I’m happy to buy the box… I just meant…” Hassan stood grinning at my discomfiture. The proprietor was not about to give in. “Nu?” he said with some impatience. Gushing profuse thanks and apologies, I accepted the Band-Aids.
So overwrought with gratitude that an emotional meltdown seemed imminent, I thought it wise to leave quickly. But back on the street I got to wondering: What became of the open box of Band-Aids? Did the proprietor discard it, gift it to Hassan, put it in a drawer for future use, or stick it back on the shelf?
I have a pretty good idea, but that would be a whole ‘nother blog post.