Well it's time to get posting again, especially since I have something I really want to say.
I'm disappointed in the prejudiced and just plain mean-spirited behavior I witnessed this morning coming through the weekend outdoor produce sale in Haymarket Square. One block beyond the market is the Holocaust Memorial, with its poignant reminder about failing to speak out. Paraphrasing the quote, it says when they came for the Communists I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Communist, and when they came for the Jews I remained silent because I wasn't Jewish, and when they came for the Catholics, I said nothing because I was Protestant, and when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out. So I'm speaking out for the many Haymarket shoppers who don't look like me and who don't sound like me. These differences too often result in mistreatment which goes well beyond a basic lack of common courtesy to a total lack of respect for customers who look and speak differently. I've seen shoppers harrassed and yelled at, and sometimes even accused of stealing, by some of the merchants manning the stalls, but I've never seen it happen to someone like me. Often I'm served ahead of other shoppers and there's no yelling if I touch the produce or don't have my money immediately ready. With Haymarket situated right along the Freedom Trail, surrounded by the symbols of American History and human rights, it's an embarrasment to the citizens of Boston to see this sort of unequal and demeaning behavior, not just once in awhile, but week after week. Bargain prices make Haymarket shopping an economic necessity for many people to be able to supply their families with fresh produce, but low prices and low incomes do not justify this 'way of doing business'. It should not be accepted by other shoppers or by other merchants, and those merchants who persist in such abusive and disrespectful behavior ought to be banned from having a stall. Speak out for yourself and join me in requesting that the City of Boston Office of Civil Rights investigate merchant behavior at Haymarket.
But my morning walk wasn't all bad. When I crossed over into the North End to add some figs and arugula to my produce purchases, the shopkeepers were super friendly. As I walked a little further down Salem Street, the smell of tomato sauce permeated the air, where the restaurants that line both sides of the street were beginning their preparations for the evening's meals. With the temperature reaching 95 and my bags of purchases growing heavier, I was happy to see the lemonade lady sitting out at her usual spot next to Bova Bakery. Perhaps as a concession to the very hot day, she was under a large umbrella, the kind that normally sticks into the center hole of a cafe table. But when I stepped up to purchase a glass of her lemonade, I chuckled to see her ad hoc umbrella arrangement. There was no cafe table or umbrella stand. Instead she had it balanced between her feet and was holding it in place with her hand. Holding the cup and pouring out my lemonade was a two-handed job so she kind of looked at me and then said, 'Can you hold the umbrella for a minute?'. Then she proceeded to pour me a cup of a sort of lemonade slush, the result she told me, of freezing it overnight before serving it this morning. She passed me the cup, I passed her back the umbrella and a dollar, and the lemonade was just what I needed to cool me down for the rest of my walk back to Charlestown.