The Pet Pamperer

Ginger, a toy poodle whose name matches her fur color, prances into Central Park Pet Spa. She has an appointment for a shampoo and haircut. The grooming salon on Ditmars Boulevard at 38th Street is new, and she’s never been here so it’s unclear whether she knows about her upcoming beauty treatment. She’s only a year old, so when her mommy walks out the door, she cries like a baby until Reda Elabd, the spa owner, scoops her up in his big hands and plies her with puppy kisses and treats. By the time he trims her …

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The Charity Worker

Although it takes up an entire tree-lined block of Long Island City, the CMMB Distribution Center is a remarkably unnoticeable building. The only thing that announces the presence of the long and low cream-colored 33,000-square-foot structure is a grey blend-into-the-background metal front door with a small sign so far overhead that you have to crane your neck to read it. It notes, in robin-blue lettering, that this is the home of the Catholic Medical Mission Board. Ralph Barberio, the longtime manager of the CMMB, is similarly low-key. Self-effacing and soft-spoken, Ralph, who is grandfatherly grey, doesn’t want to talk …

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The Guy Who Owns the Car Spa

Even if you and your car wanted to, it’s impossible to pass by Astoria Auto Detailing Center without gawking. Amid the boring brick buildings of the block, it presides, in construction-cone orange and caution-light yellow, like a psychedelic peacock. You have no choice but to slow down and watch the workers hand wash and wax the cars in a complex choreography set to the siren sound of Latin pop songs. Their soap-and-shine water ballet plays out against a backdrop of murals that sport classic cars, automotive logos, and because this is New York, the Statue of Liberty and the …

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