Monday, August 2, 2010

The Everyday Celebrities

Have you ever wondered about the everyday celebrities in our life? The checkout clerk at the corner grocery store, the owner of the Indian superstore, the owner of the new India restaurant in town.

All these people and many more like them have one thing in common, they are the local "celebrities". Sure they don't have celebrity status and people don't queue up for their autographs but they are celebrities in a different sense of the term.Before we go there, lets define who a celebrity is. Loosely speaking, a celebrity is a person a lot of the “commoners” recognize. We vie for their attention and feel a sense of satisfaction at being acknowledged by celebrities: Imagine being on first name terms with George Clooney.

Although our everyday celebrities do not share the same status as George Clooney but they are celebrities in their own way. They are easily recognized: think about how troubled an Indian grocery store owner looks if you spot him/her at Walmart or Sams Club. They almost give you the cold shoulder like any other celebrity. They are worried about being recognized (probably because they don’t want to be spotted buying garbanzo beans in bulk from Sams Club to resell at their store :) ). Ever run into the grocery store owner during your early morning walk? He/She will not meet your eye, act like they have never seen you and pay extra attention to the MP3 player they are listening to (in case you have the audacity to stop them and say hello, they will claim that they were worried about the MP3 player and weren’t paying attention to the rest of the world)

Those of us who have bragging rights to “knowing” some of these local celebrities, feel a sense of pride: yes, I am talking about those of us who have the perpetual need to brag about “knowing” the owner of the new Indian restaurant, or the grocery store owner giving them an ever increasing celebrity status.

And last but not least, whether we like it or not, we love being acknowledged by these people. How many of us would love to walk into a restaurant and have the owner greet us personally (it usually gets you extra attention from the wait staff and maybe even a free glass of something every time you go there). Or being on first name terms with the grocery store owner (he will push you to the front of the line on a crowded day). I think it is this need for these small favors by the rest of us that turn these people into small time celebrities and if they bask in the glory of it, then so be it. Who am I to deny them their pleasure?

So to all the small time celebrities in my life, I hope you enjoy your celebrity status and I will be an admirer as long as I can get my free glass of mango lassi next time I come to your restaurant and my free DVD rental at the grocery store ;)