Monday, April 23, 2012

The People in the Neighborhood, Vol. 23

You may not recognize the guy on the right, but you've probably seen his work. Shawn, alongside his partner Jen (business and romantic) and a couple of key staff members, designs plush ninjas, mustaches, even adorable clumps of poo under the "Shawnimals" label. He's also had a tortured couple of months following the brutal attack of his dog Remmy by two loose pitbulls near our neighborhood square.

Things were touch-and-go for Remmy in the beginning. But now, after a few operations, a skin graft (another is scheduled to save her most damaged leg), and several weeks of bandaging, Remmy's prognosis looks very, very good. She's eating again, walking independently up and down the stairs, and cheerfully approaching passersby for a pat on the head (something I can personally attest to).

Yesterday we went to a benefit for Remmy's care -- the cost of surgery and related therapy is now approaching $15,000 -- at our favorite neighborhood watering hole. It was a true community effort: Local cooks whipping up soups, sandwiches, and boozy snow cones for the "Snackdown" theme of the hour, neighborhood artists contributing raffle items, a local DJ donating his time and bar offering up its space. I suppose it takes a village to heal a dog, and we were happy to find ourselves in that villagy envelope, especially when we won the raffle item we'd had our eye on (a print we have zero wall space for, but what the heck).

This was like a good old-fashioned rent party, all assembled by the guy above left, an organic, free-range bacon purveyor who tracked Shawn down on Facebook after hearing of the attack.

Shawnimals is about to launch their Remmy Ninja in their sweet pup's honor, and I'm proud to own prototype #1, hand-sewn by Jen as the clock ticked so John could make it the centerpiece of my birthday present.

Get well soon, Remmy. Hope to see you on four furry legs in short order.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tony's puts a pin in my heart (again)

There's a new bag boy at my grocery store. I'm not gonna lie: He looks a lot more like the roughnecks that hang out on our corner than a kid who just got his first job at the A & P. A scowling aloofness. Random scars from a history of stitches. Sometimes a band-aid at his temple or neck.

Here we go, I thought, the first time he stood at the end of my line. Tony's' core mission doesn't always jive with canvas bags -- affordable goods and local hiring are purpose enough -- so I tend to expect a learning curve, especially with a new guy. Eggs on the bottom of the bag. Milk carton sheathed in double plastic before it goes into the canvas.

But not with this kid.

He's bagged my groceries three times now, and he's strategic about it -- heavy items packed together in one bag, fragile bread and tomatoes in another. He approaches my hand-pulled grocery cart like a game of Tetris. No wasted space, no chance of spillage. And he's gentle. He cradles my bananas in his palm, then places them tenderly into the cart. I'm always sure to thank him -- not too cloyingly -- just a quick, "Hey thanks a lot." And he always wishes me a good day, like he genuinely cares that I don't step in a puddle or lose my keys on the walk home.

Yesterday, as I unpacked the week's haul, I discovered a dented box of water crackers. A tactical misstep along the way, I guess. But how could you begrudge this kid a handful of broken crackers? He clearly needs a break, and that's a molecule of kindness I could offer.