My ebook: Journeys with the caterpillar

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Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores
and Sumba, Indonesia
" is available at
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ode to roadside salesman

Oh here goes another one, dodged him; Ooops, there’s the outstretched hand of another, ignored her; Wow, there she is coming up to me, I take out my mobile phone and pretend to talk to someone as I pass her by. Yeah, you guessed it right; I was avoiding the roadside salesman. They come with all the goodies: some are trying to sell me a credit card; some want me to buy that new mobile talk plan; some even want to sell me a house; once one wanted me to contribute $15 every month for the rest of my life to promote solar power; but often some just want to hand me a flyer for a restaurant or a language course.

They can be found in every country and their favorite digs are the same: popular shopping streets, public transport stations, and outside supermarkets. Even under the hot sun in places like India and Singapore, they can be seen dressed in a formal shirt and a tie on a weekend. He makes his own judgment of who may be a catch with a split second glance and is wrong in most such assessments. Often he or she is good looking especially if he or she is trying to sell something targeted at high end customer segments; And even then, she has to approach with a smile those ugly looking bachelors whom she would prefer not give a second glance. They have to say the same thing over and over again: New scheme…, amazing talk pl…; yes by the time they complete their sentence we are in a different planet. So often they make us lie: yes, I have that card already; Oh, I am leaving this country soon; and the biggest lie of all: Sorry, I am in a hurry!!! But then today, they are the only people who are interested in our personal details. They want to know anything worthwhile about us: your phone number, your residence address, your salary, and of course if you are in Singapore, your NRIC/ FIN number. And yeah, after another consistently hard day at work, these are the only people to whom you can show some attitude.

I would like to know how they feel: watching much of the world pass them by as if they were the untouchables of our present consumerist world. What is the state of their ego? And how do they celebrate when they net that fish? In the meantime, let us salute these true preachers, after all what can be a faster way to salvation than owning that platinum card?


Anonymous said...

i often wondered the same thing about spammers. Will keep track here - in case i find the answer.

Anonymous said...

I have done that myself for couple of years as part time job with college. and I think they rock. They estimate to trap 1 out of 100 guys anyways. So mostly, they are more successful than we think them to be. Second its wonderful re-sizing of ego when someone doesnot want to listen you. And you still manage to blabber some words into their ears. We usually had network 20 people working in vicinity. So we always took breaks in each 20-30 minutes. There were enough good looking people in the gang to keep it interesting.. No one really thought they would land some handsome guy or some hot chick to talk to in customer segment...