“Hey brother, how’re you, may I help?” The night is cold, and a New York street vendor sells me a hot dog at 3am. He is from Afghanistan, and fled the war as a teenager years ago, arriving alone in this country. His father ended up in Moscow where he died, his mother settled in Sweden with a sister, another sister is in Holland. I ask “where?” but he doesn’t know, he only knows her number which starts with +31 40. He has a brother, who lives in Amsterdam and has a firm, earning a nice income. In the past the street vendor helped him, sending money when needed, but he never paid anything back. He does not want to ask — “he knows I work night shifts”. I order a tea to keep warm. Each time a pedestrian passes by the vendor is alert, trying to make eye contact with a potential new customer. Then a homeless woman walks up to the vendor’s vehicle and kindly asks me to buy her a coffee, which I do. After she leaves again, the vendor says “it’s okay, you don’t pay for the coffee”.
If you would like to watch a short documentary on NYC street vendors, you can find it here.