Jack's place

A woman in her late-thirties walks into Mediterranean Specialty Foods on Vancouver's Commercial Drive and confidently places a glass jar on the counter that houses the olives and cheese. Fill it up, her face says, with the happy composure of an environmentally conscious East Van resident. She has brought her own transportation for the olives and cheese, to avoid those problematic plastic containers.

"Please, take that off," says Jack, the Palestinian deli owner, who has been in the business of selling Middle Eastern and Mediterranean delicacies and staples in this city for over 30 years. "It's glass," he says. Meaning the counter. "It can chip."

Jack's baklava, which is made inhouse, disappears as soon as it's presented on large metal trays. His basturma rivals any good pastrami and his sudjuk is beloved by local non-pork eaters. In the next life though, he says, "it'll be drugs and guns," because there's no money in this business. 

The woman huffs, removing her jar along with her smile. "You know," she pouts, annoyed, but not annoyed enough to leave without her goat feta. "There are about a hundred people in this community who would shop here if your attitude was different. They talk about you. You're losing customers because of the way you treat people."

"Yes, yes, yes," says Jack. "It's true I am all of these things, but how many exactly?" he continues. 

"About a hundred," she replies, confident in this number and her position.

"Well, now it's a hundred and one," he says. "Out you go," flicking his hand towards the door."