Aug

28

  Capitalism lessons are costing me a quarter a day.

One week ago, a little boy with a hangdog expression sat next to his father lemonade vendor wishing he had something to do. He was sorting leaves on his knees to sizes to pass time. I bought a lemonade, and asked the child the cost for a leaf. 'A quarter,' he countered brightly, as his father looked on amused.

The following day he was waiting, though the time of my walk varies by three hours. He had created a vendor's table from a 3' plank on the ground with a wider assortment of leaves. I bought another for 25 cents.

This is out on a jungle path where pigs wallow, hens with 27 chicks cluck, everyone has bare feet, sleeping dogs lie, no electric, ice or running water, a body eats on six-bits a day, fingernails and lawns are cut by machete, a piece of material has value, and there are no beggars.

The third day, three vendors with three boards offering new varieties. I bought one shaped like a maple leaf from a new kid, claiming I couldn't afford more.

The fourth day a strange thing happened. There were five venders between the age of 6-9 years, and one was a girl who was scrubbing her leaves with a brush and water. I bought a clean one.

The fifth day, the vendors had learned to balance the planks like trays on their palms and carry them aside me until I bought one. The sixth day repeated, as the market seemed saturated with kids and innovations.

Today, after I bought a freshly scrubbed mango leaf, a señora rushed up and whispered in my ear, 'You know the leaves are worthless. It's just a child's game.'

'Nonsense,' I answered. The child's game is capitalism. Who knows what tomorrow may bring? They may become the most successful vendors in the village with the capitalistic habits that work is rewarded, the best product sells, wait patiently and the customer arrives, curiosity, innovation, a healthy balance of intellectual and emotional quotient, an even-keeled mind, split-second decision making, the ability to handle uncertainty, loss and success, adaptability, and there are no prerequisites.


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