The sale that got away

I thought the title of this post fitting. During my conversation with Dave, I didn’t count but I bet that he used the word respect at least a dozen times. I believe anything that you want so desperately from someone else is something that you are lacking for yourself, but that’s my opinion. Dave’s word was Respect.

As I was heading back towards my car after talking to Justin, Dave stopped me and asked if I’d like to buy one of his flowers that was made from palm fronds. He was selling them for $3 each. I told him, no thank you. Of course, being the salesman that he was, he wouldn’t take no for answer. I told him that my wife was not in town and I couldn’t do anything with it. He asked when I was returning home and I told him on the weekend. He indicated that this all-natural creation would keep for a very long time, well past the weekend. Again, I said no. Time for the next approach, bonding.

“Hey brotha, I’m just out here trying to make it. It’s nice if brothas, like yourself, who have made it, could help out.”.

Ok, just one more time for effect: No. Thank you! Hmmm, what other approach?

Well, how about a donation since you don’t want the flower. :-)

Nope. No donation. By now I was getting a little impatient, but stuck around anyway. Dave talked about all manner of things such as his just having gotten out of prison two weeks ago and the fact that he is never going back! He talked about how he taught the kids how to make the flowers. He spoke of respect and how he didn’t like when people disrespected him all the time by not even making eye contact or talking to him. He didn’t like people judging him.

I tried to offer alternate explanations like people might not want to spend $3 on a palm frond, or that they might be tired, or scared, or whatever. He wasn’t hearing that. It had to be a lack of respect. I didn’t argue the point.

During the time that I stood there, he sold several flowers. One group offered him $3 for 3 roses. He was insulted, telling them that this was hand crafted work that should be respected. They made him a final offer of $5, which he took. Then he came back to me and complained. Imagine, he said, someone going into a high priced restaurant, looking at the menu and saying I’m not paying $20 for that meal, I’ll give you $8 for it! Man! That’s a lack of respect! (See any pattern?)

I was past ready to go and thought that I’d offer him a small donation of $2, just because I was happy to see that he was out trying to earn some money, even though I had some small misgivings as there was a not so faint smell of alcohol on his breath, but judge not! He took it with some reluctance. Not the reluctance of pride, but the reluctance of it’s not enough. He said: OK. I’ll take your $2 if that’s all you have to offer. I looked at him and said: Well, Dave. I’ll tell you what. I’ll just put this back into my pocket since you don’t seem to need or want it and I’ll be on my way. He quickly recanted his statement, apologized, and accepted the donation.

A few minutes later I was about to walk off and then turned back:

Paul: Dave. Would you mind if I take your picture?
Dave: How much more money are you going to donate?
Paul: None. I don’t pay for pictures.
Dave: OK. Then you can’t take it.
Paul: Cool. It was nice to meet you, Dave.
Dave: Hold up man. Are you going to sell this picture to make money?
Paul: No. I just like to take photos of interesting people, but I understand.
Dave: Alright, you can take my picture.
Paul : OK. (I took a few pictures over the next few minutes as he did his business)
Dave: I can tell that you really want to hang out with me.
Paul: Really? How’s that?
Dave: I can just tell.
Paul: OK. (Smiles)

Finally, a couple came by, the ones pictured, and he convinced the man to buy his lady a rose. After the transaction was complete, Dave asked them if they’d like to be in a picture with him. They said sure. Dave tried to get the wife between him and husband, but the husband was having none of that. You see that she is safely on the other side! :-)

Dave: See, I got you a good picture. You should donate some more money.
Paul: Nope. No more donations. I have to go.
Dave: See! All of this conversation that I shared with you and you can’t even give me more than $2.
Paul: Oh! I didn’t know that the meter was running! I didn’t realize that you were charging me for conversation!!
Dave: Naw man, it ain’t like that! I take it back. I’m sorry.
Paul: No apologies needed. It was really nice to meet you, Dave. I wish you well!
Dave: I’m going to be alright. Look for me next time you are down here.
Paul: Will do.

I finally was able to leave and head to my car. As I walked away, I could hear Dave in the background with his, now familiar to me sales line:

“Flower for the lady? Handcrafted! Only $3″

In street photography, you don’t get these types of opportunities unless you stop and talk. I am grateful to Craig Tanner and his Next Step Workshop that helped me get over some of my fears of taking pictures of people. Without that, I would have never gotten to hear these great stories and meet these interesting people! And to be sure, Dave was an interesting person!

Justin : Living on your own is expensive!