Thursday, 14 July 2011

Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all

My Dad’s a market trader so I’ve been exposed to markets all my life. I’ve decided to do a bit of a blog about it because I’ve been manning his stall for him recently while he’s been away, so seems apt.
My earliest memory is of ‘helping’ him on his fruit and veg stall, I must have been a tiny little girl as it was a long long time ago. I remember feeling really grown up helping to hammer the fruit boxes to the stall … I was allowed to use the hammer and nails, the actual hammer and nails, I felt like one of the adults. Inevitably one of my memories of this involves me actually managing to hammer my finger/thumb and balling my eyes out. I was young so I can’t imagine I did it with much force, but it definitely hurt. I liked it once the stall was all ready because I got to sit on a banana box with a Macdonalds Happy Meal. Or there was going to a place early in the morning, where I slept all the way in my dad’s massive van, seemed like a weird alternate universe to me because everyone was loud and wide awake, but it was dark and I was tired. But wherever it was we always had the nicest bag of toast (which is why I’ve decided it must have been early morning and not late at night). Since growing up I figured it was probably a place where he got his stock from.
My next memory is of being much older, at a guess 14/15 years old. I worked with my Dad on Gainsborough market … sorry if any of you are from there, but Gainsborough really is a dive, I felt like I was risking life every day just being there ... all the teenage boys had that exaggerated limp and the girls wore scruchies, ew. At this point we were selling household stuff, you know, bleach, shampoo, sponges, toilet rolls … glamorous stuff. I was a moody teenager at this point .. and hated it. My dad used to do the market trader shouty thing to get people to the stall, there was no way I was doing this! ‘HAVE A LOOK ROUND AT A POUND!’ … which use to bug me because there is zero sence in this sentence, it didn't cost £1 to look around, we didn't charge for looking. I got paid £20 for working from 5am til about 6/7pm, and when i decided i wanted company and took my friend Emma to help we got £10 each .... child labour surely!
Anyway, the reason for this blog is that i've been doing my Dads markets while he's been on holiday ... all on my own!! Driving a pretty large van to the markets (when i drive a teeny tiny KA) at 6am in the mornings and unloading, staying until 6pm and loading all the stock back on the van. I'm definately not built for manual labour! I did have a young lad that was supposed to help me load and unload but he was rubbish at the actual turning up stuff. My friend Sarah was a bit of a star and came to help me when she could. I quite enjoyed the actual day part because it's fabulous for people watching, you see alsorts, from chavs causing disruption, to domestics, to just people in 'oh my god what is she wearing' outfits. I also saw a man run off with a womans bag shortly followed by a security guard nonchalantly strolling back with it in hand like some modern day superhero (lol @ modern day superhero sounding like i believe that there were olden day super heroes and that they exist). Undoubtedly the weirdest thing i saw was an old man on a moblity scooter holding his legs up in the air a few inches as if he couldn't put his feet down, then he went into the library and came back out a few minutes later with some library books on the floor of the scooter with his feet resting on them. Ingenius use of library books, although i couldn't help but wonder why he didn't get something more permenant, he's only gonna have to return them in a few months.

Markets are hard work, tiring, but i have found certain aspects enjoyable, it has taught me invaluable life skills, how to handle money, how to do on the spot maths but most importantly how to deal with the general public, it's one thing to serve a customer, another to be able to banter with a complete stranger .. this i believe i'm good at, because of the markets.