Urban Chronicles: A Friendly Bushwick Barter

I was walking to meet up with some friends in Bushwick when I passed by a man in a black hoodie, smoking a cigarette outside of an apartment building. Another man walked up the sidewalk towards me, carrying a 12-pack of Tecate in one hand. I watched as he glanced up at the man with the cigarette, slowed down and approached him. He asked to bum one.

“I’ll give you a beer for a cigarette,” he said. “A friendly Bushwick barter…”

The man quickly agreed. He pulled a fresh cigarette out as the second man ripped open the cardboard box and, just like that, a conversation was born. They began to swap stories of their past spontaneous street trades. As their voices faded away behind me, I realized that I’d witnessed one of those fantastic interactions that make Bushwick so special. Two strangers meeting unexpectedly and sharing a moment. Three, if you count my observation.

I glanced back one last time and saw a different, more familiar, tableau – two old friends taking a quick smoking break on a brisk evening – and I smiled.

Photo via Flickr

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