He’s among a dozen men with stands to sell fruits and vegetables on the Naschmarkt. We’ve became pals because one day I tried to ask for carrots in Turkish and he laughingly handed me a towel: “Havlu?” I blinked at the towel and pointed to the orange roots nearby. “Havuç,” he corrected me and I sighed. He pointed at different veggies and asked me to name them. I failed miserably. He loved every minute of it and sent me away with a free sack of fruit that could have fed a family of five. “I’m only one woman!” I exclaimed, and he laughed again.
This time, he won’t let me pay for my strawberries and pears. I keep trying to shove money at him as he walks away. The other men working at the stand watch with hands on their hips my helpless holding out of euros. “Brother,” I tell him in Turkish, “I really thank you, but I am buying this. Now.” His colleagues slap their legs and applaud. I scramble together another sentence saying it is very kind, but please! I threaten that I won’t come back if I can’t pay, and this has the whole staff in near hysterics.
“Go on, girl, go away then.” My benefactor wipes tears from his eyes as I hold up the untouched bill. “Next time you pay. Maybe. Next time,” he promises yet again.