Vendors in ih the Food d Marketk
There is a bean sprout vendor who grows in a most natural way in nine clay vats in his yard, such as using well water instead of tap water. He certifies that his soybeans are locally grown and non-GMO, and that he uses no artificial fertilizers of any kind. He also rotates the harvest of the nine vats, and only when the sprouts are fully grown does he take one to market, where they sell at three times the cost of normal soybean sprouts. Regardless of the time spent, the moment they sell out he packs it up and returns home, refusing to any more until the next vat is ready. This way not only do his soybeans sell very well, but his uncompromising integrity also garners him praise.
Only God knows when his bean sprouts will be fully grown. Sometimes he shows up at the market for days on end, and there are long stretches when no one sees hide or hair of him. There are even some people who wait for him at the market but leave empty handed. It is his soybeans that determine when he will make an appearance. Though it is just a common vegetable, it has become something of great value that, like panning for gold, can only be gotten by chance not by choice. I went to the market one weekend and happened to see him selling
his soybean sprouts, so I bought one kilo of them for lunch. By the time the dish was ready I was chopping at the bit to try them and found that they were indeed tasty.
Although his soybean sprouts have become a hot commodity, he refuses to expand. He only watches over his nine vats like they are nine scrolls containing the precious Buddhist canon. When people ask him why, he answers, “I can only look after nine vats at most. If more than that, I won’t be able to handle it.” Some people say, “Why don’t you hire an assistant?” He says, “No. My bean sprouts will feel uncomfortable if it’s a stranger taking care of them.”
Even if growing soybeans is not a kind of rocket science, it does take incredible focus. When he cleans the vat, soaks and drains his crops, he always follows a strict regimen and completes every step with proficiency and consistency.
By nature, he is calm, patient and honest, and his mind is as clear as a bell. Working over the vats on a moonlit night, it is like his mind is in complete synchronization with the light, the wind and nature itself. I often think what an amazing feeling it must be to feel the joy of growth, and how peaceful and satisfied he must be.
Contrast this with a middleaged woman who sells assorted seasonal vegetables whenever they are available directly from a farm truck. She is always the quickest to pick newly grown crops. As her stocks consist of only choice quality customers can pick whichever ones they like without fear of inconsistent quality. Sometimes she sees a customer sneaking a few more vegetables than what she/ he has paid for, but she never says anything about it, but just wraps them up and hands them over to the customer with a big smile. And the honest customers, who neither bargain nor sneak more than they have paid for, receive a few extra as a free gift. She sells different things every other day, for example, when a truck of
kidney beans are sold out one day, she may sell water melon the next day. On a psychological level, she understands people’s desire to get more than they pay for, and let it work for her sale.
In my hometown, there is a traditional pickled vegetable dish called lump pickles. It is dark green, and looks ugly and repellent to the uninitiated, but it is a favorite of those from the area, as it reminds them of home. There is a sweet gentlemanly vendor selling lump pickles, who has an intellectual flair. As he sells his product, he wears a clean mask and a pair of plastic gloves. The cloth covering the pickle jar and his apron are snowwhite, and the metallic cart and stainless-steel jar lid are polished to a glistening shine. Even the boxes of the highest quality, all of which are so spotlessly clean that elicit respect from the customers who might wonder if he is selling pickles, or showing his achievements in food safety research. As for his glossy pickles, no one would doubt if they are polluted by flies or other insects, or if there are any additives or excess nitrites inside.
There is another vendor— a butcher couple. The husband is aggressive and the wife shrewish. The two are like local despots, with a stall set up so close to the middle of the road as if they wish to stop traffic and force customers to buy from them. When they sell meat, they wave a cold and shiny cleaver around, hacking away maniacally like executioners. At the end of the day, customers detour around them to keep their distance.
As human beings we are always comparing things, whether it is between people or products, nothing wants to be compared to death.
( From Prose , May 2018. Translation: Zhu Yaguang) 偷加几棵菜，她看到了，也不言语，笑眯眯地把货包好放到人家手上。老老实实、不偷不拿不讲价的，她主动给你秤旺点。她隔一两天就会换货，今日刚清空了一车新鲜的芸豆，明天就换成了最甜的西瓜。她的功夫在心理层面，出手就打人贪心的要害。