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“I just love that fruit man, but he’s so unreliable,” she said, smiling and recounting recent experiences of the man with a handcart of coconuts, pineapples, and other goodies who had arrived late for a previous school function. In the land of ‘soon come’, we often live with ‘never reach’. Is the sweetness and freshness, and the artistic carving of the pineapples worth the stress of never seeing or eating this goodness before all the guests have gone home? Like arranging a potluck supper and waiting for the person with the appetizers to arrive, it gets more than a little frustrating. When that person calls an hour after the supper was supposed to start to check if it’s still on, the gritted teeth moments are only seconds away from hair being pulled from scalp episode. When they arrive in time to share in desserts. WHY? “I’m not inviting her again!” But, her crispy won ton salad is sooooo good. Love them. Hate them.

20131011-080730.jpgThe fruit man, named ‘Tuppence’, wants to have it both ways. He has his regular spot where passers by look forward to his daily offerings to make their day. But, he also wants to ‘make a money’ selling to some well-to-do folks. He can’t be in two places at once. He can’t bear to choose between money here and money there. He promises to do both. He needs someone to man his regular spot and dare not lose it. He can’t leave till his sub comes along. But, this is Jamaica: his sub is late. So, he has to be late for the school event. He makes some of his regular money and makes less than he could have from the well-off people. Maybe, a lose-lose. He needs to say “No.” But, all he sees is his livelihood.

He’s typical of many people who have to rely on themselves to get things done. He’s also typical of people whose business depend on its manager being present. It could be the shop that can’t operate till the man arrives with the key to open up. It’s common.

What’s odd is the willingness of customers to put up with that. Not once, but often.

20131011-083253.jpgScarcity could explain why this happens. Exceptional value could also explain. Superb quality, too. Are these really present or are they just caught in a trap and acting like lemmings and doing something, habitually?

Is the problem the familiar one of not knowing how to say “No”? If so, it’s on both sides. The rationalisation by the users for going to the dry well so often is often pure delusion. “But, he’s so nice…” What does that matter if you cannot sample the niceness. “He’s so funny…” The joke is on you! “We’ll give him another try…”

Good intention on both sides can still end as misery. The fruit man wants to please and help himself to some income. The buyers want him to have the chance to get some extra money and maybe widen his appeal. Neither works out. He goes back to his standing place. The buyer regrets, but will try again to do him a favour.

Long may the sufferers reign.

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