It was alongside a footpath in town that I met peanut boy. Where I was playing sports or watching cartoons at his age, still in his school uniform, he had a job selling the legumes which have warranted his nickname I’m using in this post.
As the only english he seemed to know was “peanuts” and “three dollars”, I wasn’t able to get his actual name. What I did get was the impression that he didn’t actually comprehend why his parents were eager to see the peanuts in his box replaced with paper and silver pieces, or why it was even his responsibility having already spent a day at school. As a child no longer than 7, I can only imagine he knew to do as he was told, especially if it earned him an applause or additional affection.
I however,understood his parents motives. The practice of consumer psychology isn’t just pervasive in the multimedia channels of the developed world, it’s also found on the streets in areas that advertisers don’t even bother to reach. People selling from offices or the streets alike, know that the greater the sense of sympathy you can evoke in someone, the more likely it is that they will act accordingly in your favour.
Peanut boy was just like babies and puppies that I remember street beggars in Thailand would hold up to my attention as I passed. He was an instrument.
As I withdrew $900 of cash from the ATM, I lied that I had no money but will next time, for what I believed to be his own good. I hope he understood that giving him the money that he wanted, would only ensure he would be back there again the next day, and the next, something I know he didn’t want.
That weekend, while in the supermarket queue, I noticed a sale on oreos, and I thought that would definitely be something he personally would want. As I left the store wondering when I would next be in the area after school, I heard some footsteps following me, and there he was.
I didn’t even get a thank you, and he didn’t get they money he expected. We went our separate ways, but shared an understanding that, what you want, isn’t always what you need.