I have heard many out-of-town guests make comments comparing New York to a "foreign" country. I heartily agree that there are many aspects of this city that are unique in these United States. Sometimes it is charming and sometimes it leaves a person longing for something more familiar. This morning I experienced one of those unique moments as I purchased milk at the bodega near my office.
The store is clean. The employees are nice. It's a great place to grab a bagel for a dollar. (I highly recommend the cinnamon-raisin bagel, toasted, with butter.) Overall, it gets a thumbs-up from me. Today I skipped the bagel to buy some milk for the cereal I keep in my desk. Last time I bought milk from this store, it turned out to be a little sour. I never took the time or effort to let them know, but I have been a bit shy about purchasing my milk there since that experience.
This morning I carefully checked the "Best If Used By" dates and pulled my milk carton from the back of the refrigerated section just to be safe. Everything seemed fine. I took the milk to the counter and as I was paying the polite cashier, he said to me, "Check your milk before you leave." I looked at him for a moment, trying to make sure I understood what he wanted me to do. After a few more moments of a little stammering but mostly non-verbal communication with the employee, I found myself opening the carton on the deli counter and smelling my milk. Considering my last experience, I figured it wouldn't hurt to go along with this. But due to the fact that most milk smells sour to me, I took it a step farther by tasting my milk from the carton in the store. The milk tasted fine and I found myself walking to the office with an open quart of milk.
I'm not sure if charming is the right word for this experience. Perhaps perplexing and hysterical with a little awkward thrown in for good measure. But since I have never been shy about opening my own fridge to drink milk straight from the carton (much to my mother's chagrin), I don't really see that I should be so bothered by doing the same thing at my local deli.