The Breakfast Cafe

This couple has one of the many tiny businesses that set up on my street every morning. I’m not even sure what their niche is. It’s some specialty breakfast item. There are many like these two – probably half a dozen vendors serving a limited menu in the two and half blocks between my apartment and office. Some have a small heat source; some not. Some serve pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup. Some serve a kind of dry cereal or biscuit. Most have an array of soft drinks or tea. All of them have a cart to transport whatever is needed. Then they sit or squat and wait for their customers. I’m particularly drawn to this couple. There is an unfathomable sweetness to their dispositions. I pass them each morning about 8. I seldom see anyone buying from them, but they are always smiling and always pleased when I say xin chao (good morning). My simple greeting always gets a big return smile and a little chuckle. I know they are curious and amused but we don’t have a common language so we share our interest and respect for each other by smiling and saying hello.

The mystery of small enterprises like theirs is how they subsist. Do they have other jobs? Do they have extended family that cares for them? I can’t imagine that their little cart provides anything like a living. I was even more mystified when I discovered that they were gone before noon. I always imagined them sitting all day by their food cart until the day I walked home for lunch and noticed that they had packed up and departed. The same was true of most of the other mobile enterprises. Where do they go? What do they do for the remaining hours of the day? The Vietnamese are incredibly industrious, so I feel certain that when they pack up and leave it is for another spot and another Mom and Pop effort – maybe a better spot for lunch traffic or another job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *