How to stay cool, while throwing your toys out of your… truck
Trader George Gonzalez and his truck are a familiar sight on the Grand Parade in Cape Town – like an institution almost.
Every Wednesday and Saturday morning he and fellow traders will arrive early on the square in an assortment of cars and trucks to set up shop in their designated spots, slowly turning the square opposite the Mother City’s old City Hall into a busy flea market
Gonzalez’s helpers – the poorest of the poor – will be waiting for him, some still deurmekaar (mixed up) or hung-over from the Vaaljapie and other cheap wine they drank the night before. They are typical Gatiepies – colourful and fast-talking Cape characters with funny accents who make people laugh.
There will be bergies too – beggars who have made their “home” in the bush on the nearby slopes of the majestic Table Mountain, their primitive bedrooms, kitchens and lounges often being caves, clearings and other rough shelters that are separated by quite a long walking distance from one another.
Despite their poverty, many bergies have kept their sense of humour.
Usually only one or two Gatiepies or bergies land a casual job with George.
George’s Mitsubishi has a van body with double side-doors and his casual “staff” will help him unload and roll out a long, blue plastic mat on the ground next to the truck. On top of this, they will erect a gazebo.
Then… the moment the people, especially the kiddies, have been waiting for.
George will climb into the van body and proceed with his ritual of throwing his toys out of his truck. Literally, not figuratively.
The toys are real, but factory rejects. They come in colourful boxes in all shapes and sizes, and if the boxes are not damaged, the toys inside are, or probably will be damaged when they fall on the mat. Soon there is a whole heap of boxes waiting to be picked up, inspected, bought, or rejected again by little fingers.
You’re told that at R10 a box, it’s a “steal” and if you have one of George’s little yellow discount cards, you can get what you want at half the price.
There is a saying in the retail trade that one’s success depends on three things: (1) location, (2) location and (3) location. George has picked his location well.
The Cape Town terminal train station is across the road, while the Grand Parade is surrounded by bus terminals and taxi ranks that link suburbs to the north, south, east and west with his leased spot right in the middle of the Grand Parade.
George sees his goodies being snapped up by little and older fingers. He actually sits like a Buddha (or is it Father Christmas?) inside his van box, carefully watching his “staff” and the commuters as his toys change hands.
Look at the pictures. For those who cannot see the joke, the real funny side is that the van body is insulated, made for transporting perishable/refrigerated cargo. This means George can throw his toys out AND keep his cool at the same time while the wise-cracking sales-pitch of the gatiepies makes everybody laugh.
My bet is that George, after collecting his money and facing an empty leg home, has the last laugh and all the way to the bank to boot.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?