top of page


Doing Compra
by Dimitri Suriel

8am on a Saturday, prime cartoon time for a kid, Ma got us dressed to venture out on our quest for

food. Her bottomless purse held old receipts, her ID, travel candy, and our fares. $1.25 per passenger,

all quarters jingling jangling down to a bus stop


Buses hold a hidden schedule, set to arrive when they want to arrive, filled with passengers hanging

onto wishes and hope. Most trapped in 9 to 5 bondage, some, like us, heading to the compra promised



Doing compra is a special day for the poor. We eat scraps for days or weeks, boiled hot dogs and eggs

for dinner, and have our fridges filled by God the Welfare Worker.


Bags on bags on bags of food carried onto a bus, after hours of searching in aisles, peering at expiration

dates, and debating with Ma that Fruit Roll-ups don't expire.


Ma never looked as happy as us, deep down knowing she would eventually hear her children complain

they’re  hungry, until it’s time to do compra again, putting faith in God the Welfare Worker that our

family is worthy.


Dimitri Suriel is a Puerto Rican/Dominican-American raised in Worcester MA, where a lot of his work is in searching for identity, while embracing the cultures, lived experiences, and identities he holds.

bottom of page