The short video clip is filmed from behind a store counter.
“If you get this question right,” the cameraman, a store clerk, can be heard telling a customer, “you have five seconds to pick up whatever you want.”
“All right,” says the customer, a man with a gray beard.
“Ten times 10 minus 50,” the clerk says.
“Fifty!” the man answers instantly.
“Five! Four!” the clerk shouts, counting down.
The man turns around quickly toward the small store’s shelves and bends down to reach for his prize.
“Not my cat!” the clerk yells.
The video has been viewed more than five million times on the video-sharing platform TikTok, elevating the profile of the clerk, Ahmed Alwan, and bodega culture itself.
It’s no longer necessary to live in New York to get a feel for the city’s bodegas, thanks to Mr. Alwan and others who use TikTok to post funny video clips that highlight the stores’ distinctive culture. They’re going viral in the process.