Friday, 14 August 2015

The P Word

Thinking back on the evening, it was like a strange dream.  We were set up at the market, ready to go, when the power failed.  The band cut out and the vendors running cooking devices all looked back to some unspecified spot where power happens, or around for some unspecified person who could make power happen again.

Then, like little ants scurrying, we unplugged cords, tried other outlets, reconfigured our various plug-in arrangements, and slowly, power came back on...first the band came through the speakers and got back into their set.  Then the Indian food vendor went back to frying samosas.  Somehow we were still without power.  We rallied the organizers to find a reliable outlet for us.  There was one strangely set into a tree, about two metres up from the ground.  The cord wouldn't reach.  Then there was another atop a lamppost (again, it was like a strange dream) and that one was out of order, we realized, after climbing a ladder to plug it in.

All the while the band played on, the crock pots a few booths down simmered on, the smell of frying permeated the square.  And yet, there it sat, the little griddle seeking a current.  Throughout the ordeal, we kept telling people they could still take their food home and heat it up themselves, but it was a lost cause.

With an hour left in the market, we shrugged and started slowly stacking our boxes, sitting there. The consensus among our fellow vendors seemed to be that it had been a stellar day.

Driving home, we couldn't help acknowledging that there is something pathetic about the whole business of being market vendors for a living.  Pathetic might be a strong word for some.  Most vendors downplay poor showings at market, saying, "there are good days and bad days," or, "well, had a few new customers so it's all good."  Most jobs have petty sides, boring sides.  Plenty of good, reputable, well-paid jobs have a shady side.

Being in the local food business gives us a certain street cred - when you tell people you have an ecological farm, it sounds wonderful.  But I suspect that when they catch you in the moment of scrambling with the extention cord, flustered, bordering on desperate, the glow dims a bit.

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