On the Beach

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Dealing with Hawkers when you're 5

My oldest daughter is 5 and now at that age where you need to be careful what you say around her because she listens and repeats. And, shall we say, it's not always stuff that needs to be repeated.It's also the age where she assumes a certain authority, you know she's 5 after all and pretty much seen it all, right? Make no mistake, she knows the way the world works.

This has resulted in some, er..interesting, incidents recently.

I've mentioned before that there are quite a lot of beggars and hawkers at lights (sorry, robots) in certain parts of Cape Town. I don't think I have ever bought anything from them. Mostly, it seems to me, their wares are beaded creatures and I am, frankly, surprised that the market for beaded creatures is not yet saturated. There is a limit as to how many beaded creatures one can have in one's home/car etc. I suppose there is the tourist market, but I'd have thought their luggage was already jam packed with carved masks and wooden representations of "The Big 5". But who am I to judge?

I'm always slightly embarrassed when they approach and  I mostly mutter:" no, thank you" to an area somewhere between the hawker and my steering wheel. They often try to market the item, which leads me to be even more embarrassed (as I say, I have a beaded animal limit and it's frightfully low) and I say: no, no thank you, a bit louder. Some hawkers sell black bin bags and I find it odd when they try to persuade me into these- I mean, a bin bag you either need or you don't, right? Not an impulse buy or something that caught your eye.

Anyway, my older daughter asked me why I say "no, thank you" and I said that I don't want want they're selling but you have to be polite. Her first interpretation was to wind down her window at lights and bellow: "NO, THANK YOU" in the direction of the hawkers generally which does take them rather by surprise (and certainly conveys the message). I explained she didn't need to be quite so eager or generic in her approach.

So, one day, I was turning the car around in a residential street. Very quiet except the odd pedestrian traffic every now and then. Not hawker territory. As I was manoeuvering the car, I became aware of her rapidly winding the window and, suddenly: "EXCUSE ME: NO, THANK YOU!!" with a very serious look on her face. I looked to see a poor, bewildered looking man holding a beaded monkey, which I don't think he intended to sell. He looked rather taken aback and I raced off down the road at an inappropriate speed.

 I managed to deal with generic bellowing, now how to deal with eager..?


  1. Nice and interesting blog :)