Here’s another story from Changing Every Day. When you finish reading, take the quiz to test your understanding!:
I got an online advertisement from Daffy’s in late July this summer. Its red and yellow headline made an impression on me:
After more than 50 years
Going out of business
All prices slashed
Everything must go
All stores closing soon
I have been a frequent customer of Daffy’s since I came to the U.S. I have bought most of my clothing there. It wasn’t only cheap, it’s just because I always had a sense of joy when I found something there that truly was high quality, regardless of whether it was made in Italy, China, or wherever. If I got something that was made in Italy, it would fulfill my vanity, if it was made in China, so what? I was also happy, because I was made in China.
I ran into a senior woman with red hair at the 57th Street store, the tenth time I visited. She talked to herself as she chose some sweaters, overfilling an already full shopping bag that was dragging her down. She looked delighted.
“I’m very sad Daffy’s is going to close.”
“It’s true, I feel the same way.”
“I don’t know what’s been going on over the years, so many of my favorites just disappear from New York City.” She sighed, and shook her head.
“Bad economy,” I answered with courtesy.
“Do you want to try this? Its color is great, isn’t it?” After a while, she handed a skirt to me. I stole a peek at it quickly. It had yellow, red, and blue flowers on it; all the colors were bright and very dazzling. But it was too short and too showy for me. I’m not used to wearing colorful clothing like that. It was very hard to turn her down; she was so kind.
“Sure, you are so sweet and have such good taste,” I said to her insincerely, as I put it in my shopping bag. “I’ll try it after I get all my stuff together.” But I hung it back on the clothing rack at the section’s corner while she looked elsewhere. I looked around several long and narrow clothing aisles, back and forth, until my feet cramped up. I needed to find a bench to take a break. The redhaired lady was sitting there. She shifted a little bit and let me sit by her.
“Are you Korean?” she asked me.
“No, I’m Chinese.”
“Oh, I see. So, what do you think, there are some clothes made in China that are very high quality, but some are garbage. Do you agree?”
“You are right; I agree.”
She was eyeing me and started some small talk. “I’ve been living uptown for my whole life. I always shopped at Daffy’s, Filene’s Basement, you know that?”
“I heard that.”
“No more Filene’s Basement, no more Daffy’s! I’m supposed to buy enough stuff to wear until I die today, right?”
I couldn’t find any words to comfort her.
“Do you know that Primeburger? ”
I shook my head.
“What a great diner it was! My father used to take me there for breakfast or dinner when I was little. It was on 51st between Fifth and Madison. It’s gone! One after another, since last year. I’m very sad about that.”
I understood exactly what she was saying. It resonated with me; it really did. I uneasily snuck around the corner. Luckily, the skirt was still there! I put it back in my shopping bag and felt better.
In your neighborhood, the stores and restaurants become a pulse, endowing your area with life. When they suddenly vanish, it is painful, poking your nerves.
I felt the same as the senior red-haired woman even though I’ve only been a New Yorker for three years, and she has been living here all her life. I felt for her.