I guess it’s about zero degrees Celsius. It has been snowing for the last two days even though the week before actually felt pretty closer to a spring. After grabbing a Saturday cup of double coffee with some mates I’m on my way home. I walk my daily route, I cross the small bridge like I do everyday and just like that I toss a short glimpse at the stone handrail on my right, where in drier and warmer days the local bibliophiles sell old books.
For my surprise even in this cold afternoon there are still few books lined there. I get closer, excited that I’ll fulfill my beloved ritual despite the weather and look through the titles. I find an old textbook – ‘History of Music’ pt. 3. I look around and see a man standing a meter from me, obviously he’s the one selling the books. I remember faces, but this one I’ve never seen before. I ask him about the price, he replies it’s 2€. After the coffee, I’m left with only 1.50, and it happens to be enough for the book. “I don’t like to bargain with my first client for the day, it brings me bad luck and now it’s really, really cold”, he says. I take the book and rapidly jump into the tram. It will take me home in 5 minutes, instead in 10if I decide to walk. But suddenly it has become colder. Because that man won’t catch a tram home at least for few more hours. There are people who are selling old books in their fancy and warm antiquarian bookstores. There you can find great stuff, that’s for sure. But you will probably won’t be able to buy anything, because antiquaries will probably do their best to cheat you and sell you overpriced stuff only because they can. At least that’s how they mostly roll here in Bulgaria. It seems they have long forgotten that books are to be read, and not to be left rotting on the dusty shelves of greed.
I know it was already 2 pm when the man told me I was his first customer. I know it was probably because he had just got up with a crazy hangover and went to sell some stuff on the bridge so he can cure himself with my 1.50€. I know he may choose to buy booze instead of food for himself or his family. And still he didn’t want to cheat me. In the next snowy afternoon I’ll meet another person, I’ll give him my last 1.50€, cus when it’s about zero degrees it’s cool to get back home, especially with a book. Books are cool.