June 20, 2006

Life Imitates *The Onion*

Marty Siegel, a 46-year-old train conductor from New Jersey, is a fanatical devotee of 7-Eleven convenience stores. He has visited 2,000 stores in 23 states and 3 Canadian provinces, and arranges his vacations so as to visit 7-Elevens.

"A lot of people who know me always say: 'Hey Marty, what's the big deal? If you've seen one 7-Eleven, you've seen them all,'" said Mr. Siegel, who grew up in Brooklyn. "But that's not true. I always seem to find something unique about each 7-Eleven I visit, and I guess that's why I keep visiting them."

Mr. Siegel, who has never married, fell in love with 7-Eleven the moment he laid eyes on a franchise, which arrived in Brooklyn 21 years ago.

"December 21st, 1985," he said, recalling the date of the grand opening he attended on Ralph Avenue in the Flatlands neighborhood. "It was such a bright, nice-looking new store, a real fresh breath of suburban air."

He added, "I guess I got hooked."

How does the 7-Eleven company feel about him?

Cynthia Baker, a spokeswoman for 7-Eleven, which is owned by Seven-Eleven Japan in Tokyo, a subsidiary of Seven & I Holdings Company, was flabbergasted when she heard about Mr. Siegel. "Marty has taken it to another level," said Ms. Baker, who is based in Dallas.

Read this NYT article about him -- there's much more, I don't want to spoil it for you.

And while you're at it, read this one about a Hispanic-American New York refrigerator repairman, non-Jewish, who's a passionate student of the Kabbalah and advertises the fact on his repair truck.

Nelson Cabezas seems like the kind of guy I'd like to have a conversation with. Marty Siegel -- I think I'll make do with the article.