Life's Hard, Better Hustle

18 Sep Life's Hard, Better Hustle

Photo courtesy CNN

Photo courtesy CNN

“I’m from Egypt,” were the first words spoken by the young man behind the counter of the Greek pita joint.

It seemed an odd introduction, but led to a conversation about the upheaval in his homeland, how he got to St. Louis, where I was from and why I was in his food court.

I’m in St. Louis to attend the Local Media Association’s fall conference. I stopped by the Union Station Mall food court for a quick bite before the meetings began.

As I ate my Greek salad and falafel I took in the food court goings on.

The first thing I noticed was the bustling mall I had visited five years ago was now nearly desolate. Easily a third of the storefronts were vacant. Few customers milled about.

My young Egyptian friend stood in front of his booth offering samples to passersby. A woman from the grilled submarine sandwich stand next door did the same. The remaining food stands were either closed or the workers stayed behind the counter waiting.

When I finished lunch, I asked my friend how business was. “For me? Good,” he said.

The bagel stand next door had closed. He pointed out the empty barbecue joint across the aisle, the shuttered chain restaurant and three or four other forsaken food stands. I asked how he explained his success.

“I’m from Egypt,” he grinned.

At first it made no sense. Then slowly what he was really saying dawned on me: I’m from Egypt. I have to work harder. I hustle.

In a half-abandoned food court, an unlikely young man from Egypt creates his own success hawking Greek fare and stands as an example to all.

If you seek success despite being in a situation in decline, don’t wallow – better hustle like an Egyptian.