Midterm Part 2: Engagement Project
Although I grew up in Rockland County, I moved to Kew Garden Hills in
Queens for college. I thought a lot about what I wanted to do for my engagement project. I decided instead of my usual phone conversations as I walked home, I would put my phone in my bag and observe the change in demographics as I walked further away from school and see where the walk would take me. School is the biggest mix of cultures you’ll find, but I wanted to see what else I would notice. As I walked further away from Queens College, the biggest thing I noticed what the far wider age gap. Young and old, it was apparent that people were on their way home from school or work.
As I walked past a grocery store, there were people rushing in and out. At a small supermarket like this, I wasn’t shocked to see a whole range of people rushing to and from. One women was dressed formally as she presumably made a stop in the store on her way home from work, another mom I imagine in middle of cooking dinner and needed to buy an ingredient or two.
I continued walking down Main Street, and reached a small yogurt and coffee store on the corner of Jewel Avenue and Main Street and stepped inside. I knew I was looking to find some sort of art‐related store, and realized the personal form of art one expresses when choosing amongst the dozen flavors of ice‐cream and choosing toppings from the variety of options.
Inside the small store there was a row of seats along one side of the store, the other side of the store lined with different soft‐ice cream flavors and toppings. Immediately to the right when you walk in is the counter to pay. Contrasted to the bustling street outside, the small yogurt store was rather quiet. As I ordered coffee, I struck up conversation with the cashier.
He was a friendly young man; I’d guess around mid‐30s. He was a bit messy, and wore store‐apron on top of a well‐worn t‐shirt and pants. I noticed he had a thin gold ring on his right hand. As he began to prepare my coffee, I made a remark of the quietness in the store and the bustle outside. He let smiled in agreement and explained that now was dinner time, and because his store was deserts and side dishes, this was the quietest time of the day. I then asked when was his business times and what kind of customers did he got on a daily basis, and he told to me. He explained that Sundays throughout the year and the summer season specifically was his busiest day. He said that because of his main location, he had a wide variety of demographics as costumers. Parents with their kids, grandparents with their grandchildren, school kids and their friends.
As we continued our conversation, he told me about himself. He said he just starting working in the store after struggling to find steady work. Until now he had done odd jobs but didn’t have a set schedule. His wife just became pregnant with their first child and he felt great responsibility in having a steady income.
I heard a gentle cough behind me as an older man with his grandson waited to pay behind me. I thanked the cashier and left, only after realizing I had failed to catch his name. As I finished my walk home with warm coffee in hand, I reflected on the vast differences of the lives of the people I pass by on a daily basis. Though drawn in to the store curios to see what kind of yogurts people were getting, I walked out with different curiosity; of wanting to know more about the people that I pass by working every day.