Thursday, August 31, 2006

the big issue seller at the market is called Jim. I know this because he wears a name tag, and because people there greet him as Jim. he's not particularly endearing, or clean; he smokes continually and never smiles. but he's been selling at the market for years.

yesterday he came up to me and said, as usual "copy of the big issue, ma'am?". sometimes I say yes, but yesterday I said "not today, thank you," looking him in his watery old eyes. the man's skin is like crocodile leather.

tthen I watched him go over to two women, possibly a mother and daughter, with a baby in a pram. the older woman - maybe 50 - looked up at him and then went on fishing in her bag. he stood his ground. after a second I heard him repeat the pitch to the younger woman. he must have got some response then, probably a rude one, because he then said "I didn't get an answer", meaning that the first woman had simply ignored him. and I felt like slapping them, and obliquely proud of Jim for standing up for himself. he's not begging. He's politely selling on his pitch. he never insists (though sometimes he inadvertently asks twice as he does the rounds). and like anyone else, he's entitled to a polite response to a polite question in a public place.

funny where the moral high ground can be found sometimes...

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