One of the issues that has been on my mind for more than a couple of months is our perception of the vendors who crowd our pavements and ‘walk and sell’ in Georgetown and around the country. This is significant because this section of society, by a head count, probably numbers in the tens of thousands, including, their immediate dependents. I bring this up because these are people, some with histories going back into the eighties, who have opted to pursue this very often thankless means of earning a living, being unable to secure jobs in both the public and private sectors that could adequately support their families.
Society, both businesses and private citizens using the pavements and public thoroughfare, have previously had run-ins with them over the unfair manner they occupy storefronts and leave very little room for passers-by.
The general conclusion and response has been humanitarian, this being that these people would not be doing what they were doing if they had realistic alternatives. And this brings me around to my point of whether or not to buy from these people.
Having considered the general inconveniences of their trade, and until both the public and private sectors can provide living wages for these people, I would like to encourage us all to reflect on the positions with which these individuals are confronted, take stock of their hardened desire to earn as honest a dollar as they can, and support them.
Whatever circumstances might have caused them to choose to take up their chosen means of earning a living, I am sure we all agree that it’s not something that any of us would care to find ourselves getting caught doing.
Especially also, these vendors who we see just face to face more often than not as civil offenders, have children and dependents looking forward to them to bring home bread, food and all the other basic needs of a family. With special regard to the food vendors, I am fully aware of previous issues with regard to food poisoning and the use of water from our pipes to make local drinks, etc., but I would like us to consider that with the now easy access to clean drinking water from our network of water distributors, the risks have been significantly reduced.
Also, given that many of the local drinks sold are made with fruits versus artificial flavouring, these are generally more nutritious as a source of vitamins and fibre. I would therefore also like us to take a gentler approach to these people, and to the extent that their products are not offensive, lend them as much support as possible.
In addition to supporting the children and dependents of vendors, purchasing goods from them also benefits up-the-line wholesalers and the vendors themselves, in the latter instance being a source of capital accumulation that will very probably facilitate them building their businesses either through direct construction or else renting more appropriate facilities from which to conduct their business.
So as we get in to the Christmas Season this year and through our daily shopping routine in the future, let us give a thought for the children and dependents of our vendors, and give them a leg up in life.