It was another slow, cold day at the Bridge. I noticed the family—Mom, Dad, young teenage daughter—because their clothes said they had money, and they were actually stopping to look at the merchandise on vendor’s tables.
I told the mom about my bracelets and necklaces (handmade by me from hemp, able to open and close completely). The mom liked my jewelry and wanted her daughter (between the ages of 12 and 14, I’m guessing) to like it too. The daughter, however, was at the age and the stage where she didn’t want to like anything her mom liked. They wandered away, and I was disappointed I hadn’t made a sale.
Before long, the daughter was at my table alone. She asked me a few questions about my jewelry. Then she saw my hats. She really liked the hats. I even pulled out my back stock so she could choose from everything I had available. She picked out a cute one with a pompom on top. I told her it cost $10.
Her father was walking by, and she demanded, Dad! Buy me this hat! (I admit, she sounded like a real brat.)
Her dad said, No!
The girl said, Come on! It’s only $10. Buy me the hat!
Her dad sneered, This is just a knit hat. You don’t need this.
He said just a knit hat the same way someone might say just an old boot or just a pile of dog shit. He obviously felt great contempt for that hat I’d made with my own two hands. I stood there wondering if he realized I was the person who’d made that just a knit hat.
I could understand if he didn’t want to buy anything for his daughter because she was being a demanding brat. I could understand if he’d already bought her a lot of stuff on this trip and didn’t want to spend any more money. I could understand if the girl had plenty of things and needed nothing more. But the guy could have been nicer to his daughter and to me. (How about: This is a nice hat, but you don’t need it, and I’m not spending any more money until dinner.)
The girl kept pleading, and the man turned to me in exasperation and demanded, Will you take $5 for it?
Time froze. On the one hand, at $10 per hat, I’m not paying myself minimum wage, as a hat takes me more than an hour to make. At $5 per hat, I am paying myself a seriously pitiful wage. On the other hand, I’d only made $3 so far that day, and $5 was better than no dollars. Besides, a teenage girl liked a hat I’d made, and that was pretty cool. So I sighed wearily and agreed to take $5 for the hat.
The dad pulled a wad of cash out of his pocket. I saw a $100 bill in his hand. He fished a twenty out of the pile and asked if I could make change. I signed wearily again and said yes.
As I gave him the last of my change, he said gruffly, I don’t know if I’m going to get out of here with any money left.
Isn’t that what vacation’s for? I asked brightly.
(I don’t believe vacations are primarily for spending money, but that man had just shown me he actually had plenty of money to spend.)
To read about other hemp jewelry customers, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/05/we-feel-for-your-situation/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/10/red-letter-day-2/ , here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/26/turtle-ass/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/03/17/how-much-are-these/ here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/12/hard-times-on-the-highway/ and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/09/selling-hemp-again/