Amen, Avi Steinberg

“When I’d become a regular at the shop, [Shabtai, the owner] invited me to sit with him and have horrible coffee and stale cookies––this was a major step forward in our relationship.  From there, he started to ask me to watch the shop while he… it wasn’t clear exactly what he was doing.  It seemed he had other business in the market, possibly involving certain female acquaintances.  He had a serious flirtation going with the chain smoking lady who sold dish rags and mops.

During my time as deputy junk man, I got to know the shop regulars.  The cabbie who would come in after his shift in search of radios and call me “sweetie”––which, in Hebrew, is considered a macho thing for men to call each other––and would inevitably begin speechifying and tell me that when I returned to the US, I should ‘tell the Americans’ whatever slightly frightening political opinion he happened to hold that day.  There was a very old, very pious woman who inspected every item with Orthodox exactitude and usually ended up buying her grandson a coin from a distant, long-obsolete country.  Sometimes, I would end up watching the shop for a few hours––but I didn’t care.  For better or, more likely, for worse, minding a junk emporium in the Jerusalem outdoor market was kind of a dream job for me.”

~Avi Steinberg, The Lost Book of Mormon: A Journey Through the Mythic Lands of Nephi, Zarahemla, & Kansas City, Missouri

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