Meet Leif (pronounced Layf): a 42-year-old Army vet, resident of Saugerties and graduate of Saugerties High School. On any given day, one can spot Leif climbing Partition Street in shorts, sandals, and a blazer with gold buttons. He’s dressed for work, as you will come to find out. But it’s no ordinary job Leif has. He works for himself, and he doesn’t get paid money. I sat down with him recently at Bill Yosh’s Rock Star Rodeo gift boutique to find out how he became the village’s official delivery man.
What is your occupation?
Right now, I’m disabled. I was involved in a car accident five-and-a-half years ago, which left me unable to work. At this moment in time I run a pseudo-delivery company for the local stores in the town, where I provide them with service. In other words, there’s usually only one clerk inside each store, so when they have to go get lunch or dinner or something from another store, they have to close the shop, thus allowing for customers not to come into the store. So what happens is I go to those stores and they have my phone number, and they call me up when they need me to deliver something. In return, I don’t receive any money. I receive a food product or a beverage.
The Partition Street Wine Shop provides me with a healthy home-cooked meal – lunch or dinner – and a piece of fruit. A piece of fruit if Jordan [Balsamo] forgets to eat his fruit that day. And, um, I get to eat all the snacks and, uh, cheese after the wine tastings.
And then for other shops, like Lucky Chocolates, I can wear a costume outside during one of the many special events, and for this Rae [Stang] gives me “Free coffee for Leif!”
What is free coffee for Leif?
Free coffee for Leif is free coffee for only me because of what I do for Rae, for free. So I don’t have to pay for coffee at Lucky Chocolates. And Rae is awesome!
For Love Bites, I can go to Mother Earth if they run out of fresh items, because it has to be fresh at Love Bites. For that they provide me with a trail mix cookie or sometimes a peanut butter cookie.
But for the Imogen Holloway Gallery, I’ll hand out the gallery openings [flyers] to passersby and put them in the local stores for display so people can pick them up. And for that Diane [Dwyer] buys me – it’s awesome! – a large order of garlic knots from Slices of Saugerties. The best garlic knots in town.
I also deliver for Dry Goods for Karyn [Pavich], and I hand out the First Friday posters and media to the local stores so that they can provide them to the customer.
So what do you get in return for that?
That’s the best one! I receive a food gift certificate for the brewery at Dutch Ale House.
And for Bill [Yosh] at Rock Star Rodeo, which, it’s such a unique store, they could need anything. What they do is they buy me a roast beef sub at Brianna’s Full Belly Deli.
And where else do you go?
And then there’s also Dave’s Coffee and Wine House, which could send me to Speedy Mart to get half ‘n’ half or to Stewart’s to get milk, and for that Dave [Meade] provides me with a bacon-egg-and-cheese, with artisan cheese on it – which is amazing – for free!
This is… all I have to do is go out to other stores in the village, walk – because that’s all I can do – and pick up lunch, dinner, light bulbs, anything that they could possibly need, want and desire.
Like, just new on the list yesterday, was Steamship Alice. I can go get sewing needs and stuff like that, it’s a sewing place. But they buy me a pickle from the Brine Barrel Pickle, which is right down the hill. Most of the clerks are the store owners themselves.
And why are you doing this particular thing of delivering? Why this arrangement to deliver for food, as opposed to getting a job or doing another type of work in town?
Because a car accident of five-and-half-years-ago left me with two bulging discs in my lower back, one on the left and one on the right. I’m in constant pain. The only thing that I can do, is, I remembered, back in school, Coach Deacon Hank Smith would always say, when somebody got hurt, “Walk it off.” And that was always better than, “Sounds like a personal problem. Maybe you should see the school nurse.”
So what I do is, I walk. And while I’m walking, the pain dissipates. It really lessens. But when I stop walking, or try to sit down, what happens is, the pain comes back. So, what I’m trying to do is train my body to, um, accept the pain while I’m walking. And thus, the more pain that one person can take, um, the easier – the easier it is for me to be in pain. Because, if you’ve had a toothache for more than two days, try having that same toothache for five-and-a-half years.
What do you think makes Saugerties special?
The people, because the people in Saugerties are unbelievably awesome. They follow three simple basic rules on existence. If it’s not yours, don’t touch it. Don’t kill anybody. And don’t be a big jerk.
If you had to come up with a motto for Saugerties, what would it be?
The motto for Saugerties… Well, this is a great question. It used to be “Welcome to Friendly Saugerties.” But I don’t think that’s enough, because they took the sign down. So, in other words, it doesn’t mean that everybody in Saugerties isn’t friendly anymore. It just means that they’re making a new sign. And that sign’s gonna say, “Welcome to good and friendly Saugerties. Unless you’re a citiot. Then you can leave.”
And, please, uh…it’s not a curse word. Citiot is just an individual human being that has zero patience, that wants whatever it is they ask for 15 seconds before they ask for it, and then they’re rude to you because they didn’t get it fifteen seconds ago. In other words, they think you’re a mind reader. No patience.