Paul Beckman – This Is Not Self Service


The Fruit Corner, a greengrocer’s store, occupies the same spot in New Haven
since the Amato family first opened it some forty years ago. The current
proprietors are third generation Amato greengrocers. However, unlike
greengrocer stores throughout the world, and especially the east coast, The
Fruit Corner does not put their wares on display outside the store. They are
also not given to window displays.

Inside, signs are posted around the store: This is not self-service!
Ask for help!

Do not touch the

To make a purchase, the customer stands in front of the desired fruit or
vegetable and the Amato on duty asks questions in a tone more suited to a
clinic than a grocery- “What day do you plan to eat this?” – “Do you like
your plums soft or hard?” – “Is this going into a salad or will it be served
whole?” The Amato then makes the selection accordingly. Time could be saved
if each customer were given a clipboard and form to fill out upon entering
the store-perhaps the next generation.

Many people over the years have reached to pick up an apple or peach only to
be yelled at from across the store. “The signs! Don’t touch! Read the

When I was in high school I worked at The Fruit Corner but I was not allowed
to touch any unwrapped food. I moved boxes into coolers, out of coolers,
carried bags to cars, swept up, made deliveries, and touched young Mrs.
Amato-and she me, in the back room, while the rest of the Amato family was
busy keeping watch on their precious produce.





Paul Beckman writes everywhere and sells real estate in Connecticut. He’s
 been published in The Raleigh Review, Boston Literary Review, The
 Brooklyner, Web Del Sol, Pure Slush, Connotation Press, Playboy, Soundzine,
 5 Trope, Word Riot and other wonderful venues in print, online & via audio.
 Stories upcoming in Ascent Aspirations, Yellow Mama, Pure Slush, Full of Crow Quarterly, Metazen, The Story Shack, Connotation Press and My Audio


One thought on “Paul Beckman – This Is Not Self Service

  1. Pingback: December 2013 – Community | Digging Through the Fat

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