Saturday, January 12, 2008

Meddling with Peddling

Let no poverty steal away a child's education.
Let no shame taint an innocent's reputation.
Let no cloud rain on a roofless head.
Let no quiet stand in their voice's stead.

Whenever I go to work, I always take the route that costs me the least time. In doing do, I ride a jeepney to an FX terminal, where I catch an FX to take me to the train station, where I await a train to take me to another train station, where I disembark and sprint my way across four roads and two dirt parking lots. This costs me a considerable amount of calories and double the fare when, in fact, I could ride only one bus from home and be there in, say two or three hours.

Going back home, though, is another matter. Since I am not chasing anything, except probably for sleep, I usually ride the bus home. For one, it costs almost half the fare and, since it takes at least two hours, I can also sleep for around an hour and a half. Yes, I know, it's a talent.

On there bus rides, before dozing off, I hear several people peddling their wares. "O, mani, mani kayo d'yan, mainit, bagong-luto, mani kayo d'ayn," says the peanut vendor. "Ah, kasoy, kasoy, kasoy kayo d'yan," offers the cashew vendor. "O, Maxx, Mentos, V-Fresh, Doublemint, o, C2 kayo d'yan, malamig, C2, mineral, o" from the candy vendor who also peddles iced tea and cold mineral water. Why he's selling those in an airconditioned bus, at night, escapes me. "O, 'yung mga wala pang ticket d'yan, o." Ah, that would be the conductor.

Seriously, these people don't bother me for, I understand, we all are only doing our jobs. A person has to do what it takes to survive. However, there is a certain breed of peddlers that I cannot stand. They can strike you anywhere, in a bus, in a jeepney, hell, they even hawk their wares in restaurants while you are eating! Talk about a seriously messed up sense of timing! Or ethics, might I add.

Their sales pitch is either ultrasound or infrasound for you won't hear anything from them. What they do, instead, is offer you a card, or a piece of paper. The more unscrupulous ones, not finding a hand ready to receive their cards, would place it wherever handy: on your table, on your bag, on your knee, on the arm of your chair or on your lap. The more audacious ones would wake up a sleeping passenger to "offer" their cards. The cards read:

"Good day sir/ma'am. I am Jane Doe from the province of Batangas/Cavite/Palawan/Batanes/Tawi-tawi/. I'd like to knock on your generous hearts to buy my pastillas, macapuno, ube, polvoron, puto-seko, caviar, foie gras, ."

Good! At least, there is no doubt of what they're selling in those large plastic bags they're lugging with them. Some of them, though, add a more heart-rending detail regarding the beneficiary of their sales:

"I am studying in college and I'm paying for my tuition with the sales of my goods."

Those are the better cards. The other cards don't even give you a shit of a clue. However, I am sure, all cards will, regardless of author, have a quote or two for vague purposes:

"It is better to sell than to steal," or "It is better to work hard than to beg," or "It is better to than to ."

That is, for me, the most irritating part. If it is, indeed, better to sell than to steal or beg, then what, in heaven's name, are they giving these cards for? Why on earth can't they just peddle like everyone else? "O, pastillas, macapuno, kayo d'yan, pastillas, macapuno!" I once asked a girl (poor lady, to have met me on a bad day) "Why don't you just announce what you're selling, instead of giving people these cards?"

"E sir, nakakahiya po e," (Sir, it's embarassing) she replied softly.

"P*+@ng !n@," (You don't wanna know what I'm saying here ^_^) I blurted out, exasperatedly rolling my eyes, crumpling her card and throwing it at her feet. The poor girl hastily collected her cards and disembarked from the bus.

God, the gall of such people. Here they are, silently peddling as though wishing to keep their sales a secret, yet thick-faced enough to claim in their cards, "Ha! We're better than those beggars!" and, reading between the lines, "I don't like doing what those 'filthy'/'pathetic'/'embarassing' peddlers do but I have to, for my studies/son/daughter/children." If that is not hypocrisy, then I don't know shit.

Also, what educated person will place cards on other people's body parts? What kind of idiot disturbs your meal so you could read her heart-wrenching tale of poverty? Who would be audacious enough to wake up a person so he/she could knock on their "generous" hearts? Believe me, a person rudely awakened is anything but generous... well, lemme rephrase that. A person rudely awakened can only offer you generous amounts of anger and hatred.

Really, I am inclined to believe that those hollering peddlers are a lot better persons than these bashful girls shoving their cards or pieces of paper to everyone's faces. Those chanting vendors know what they're doing and they really do take pride in not doing anything criminal. Unlike some people, they don't yell out excuses like, "It's better to sell than to beg! Mani, mani, mainit, mani kayo d'yan. It's better to work hard than to steal!" (Well, even if they do, at least, they have the pride and self-esteem to match what they're saying)

One of these days, I'm gonna return one of those cards with the words, "It is better to holler your wares than to shove your cards in people's faces."

No comments: