Keeping Shop

My name is Samur Imseeh. I work here (Samiramis Imports) every day, almost thirteen hours a day.
I get in at 8 o’clock. I get the fresh bread, I get the fresh vegetable#s. I do the olives, I open the fresh cheeses. Anything not clean, I clean it. Mostly, everyday, the same thing.
I am Palestinian originally. I’ve been [to the US] before. Two months here. Six months there. For fifteen years, I’ve been going back and forth. I’ve been here four years consistently. I came here to study more–business–but it’s an expensive city to live in.
I like to help my customers. Like, they want to cook something and they don’t know to cook it; explaining things, like about olive oils, or about situations in the Middle East. People come in and ask, ‘Can you read this for me?’. They have friends who are Arabic, or they give gifts from the Middle East [and wonder], ‘What’s this mean?’
The first year I came here, we didn’t have this selection. We started keeping this book here–if you recommended something from the Middle East, just write it. And you start getting more stuff and more stuff.
We’ve got Chinese [customers], Indian; We have Pakistani, Persian, Palestinian, Libyan, Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, Bulgarian Egyptian, Turkish…
People travel from all over. She [points at customer] has driven two hours. Because this places has been here for eighty years. This is the oldest Middle Eastern store in the United States.
I have busy days–on the forms, on the orders. Some days I just want to go home and rest. Just an hour or two hours. Like Wednesday, I took two hours. I went home, ate something–like some Middle Eastern stew or some kind of food–just to have fun.
I just went to Palestine. It’s nice to be back. You know, you miss family, [but also] you miss here–the customers.

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