Moussa is always searching for the busiest place in the city. He needs to be just up the street or around the corner from there.
“You don’t want to draw too much attention,” he explains. “That brings the cops and then you’re out of business.”
Moussa’s business is handbags mostly, but he sells wallets, too. He moves everything on a small cart in a taped-up cardboard box. When a good spot is located he scoops up bundles of bags and quickly arranges them on the sidewalk over old bed sheets.
People flock like pigeons to a dropped hot dog roll if he’s chosen wisely.
“Times Square is the best place,” Moussa says. “But it’s also the most dangerous because there are cops everywhere.”
Moussa always worries about the cops because they’ve taken all his merchandise before. But these days he’s more worried than usual because his friend Mamadou was recently arrested working on Broadway at 46th Street.
“I’m afraid because nobody’s seen him since,” Moussa says. “I wish there was safer work for me.”
Baseball season is better.
“I cleanup after games at Yankee Stadium,” Moussa says. “It’s hard, but not risky. I look forward to it because I know I’m going home to my wife and baby after work.”
He can’t be sure of that tonight.
“I’ve just got to pick the right spot,” Moussa reasons, “and be ready to pack up and move fast if I see the cops.”