Sunday, 6 May 2007
A Day in the Life of a Kiosk Owner
There’s a wonderful institution in England called the Corner Shop. You rarely have to walk more than 5 minutes until you come across one, open from early till late, seven days a week, with all the chocolate bars, newspapers and cartons of milk that you could ever need. Owning a Corner Shop is a trade particularly popular with Britons of Asian descent - which means you can normally get whatever you need even on Christmas Day! Corner Shop owners are considered hard working, upstanding members of society, who, together with accountants and undertakers, provide the rest of us with life’s most important services.
Israel doesn’t have Corner Shops. It has Kiosks. The kiosk on our street backs on to a small park, making it an absolute goldmine. Throughout the summer, hundreds of children and parents wander around the park, all hungry for ice cream and thirsty for chocolate milk. Over the winter, the owner made some changes to boost business, ahead of the summer surge. He started by knocking a hatch though the back wall of the kiosk so that he'll face the park (which he never opens). He then painted his new kiosk… pink. And finally he painted a “No Parking” marking on the road outside of his kiosk so no one should block his view of the street. Genius.
As if the Knesset made it mandatory, every kiosk – however big or small – has its own satellite dish, along with all the sports channels. This helps explain the mystery of why the kiosk owner stays open so late, even when most people are home for the night. Every evening, he and a few of his mates do precisely what they would do at home, but without their nagging wives reminding them to wash the dishes, put the kids to bed and fix the wobbly door knob. The chevra sit around the kiosk’s little table, and enjoy 90 minutes of uninterrupted pleasure. The kiosk owner knows that however little trade he’ll get that evening, he is guaranteed to sell 5 packets of cigarettes and a kilo of garinim.
Beyond selling today’s copy of Maariv and Yediot, and tickets for this week’s Lotto and Totto, most people assume that there’s more to the kiosk owner than meets the eye. No one really knows how the kiosk owner makes his money but let’s just say, it’s not how Mr. Patel does it.