Tourism has permitted much for this tropical isle. Fairly speaking, tourism has only been the purpose of this island, historically speaking. Recruiting staff for the resorts from local stock allows a livable wage for many. While others may be in our third, or greater, generation of thrift sales.
Carrying a tattered briefcase containing bracelets, anklets, necklaces, and scarves I set out from the small structure that my mother and sister claim as our home office. The office is shabby craft rising 4 feet high with a base of a 2 foot squared out wood stiff but worn with the foam-like consistency that can only be created by the saltwater mist that rises off the Ocean.
Whomever of us who walks the beach can promise a deal of anything we have for sale back at our office. Of course, if we walk with our bare feet in the soft sand, allowing the warm waters to cascade across our toes, feet, and ankles we do not want to offer a tourist to visit the home office. Walking the beach there are a handful of others who have things to sell. Some sell the same, others different items altogether. We all are looking for the same thing, skin color.
Pale skin tells us the tourist has newly arrived on the beach. They have not developed a barrier to the conversational discussions we have learned that lead to sales. Pale skin advises they are still enrolled with most of, if not all of the money they brought onto vacation, and that money is cash. Pale skin may as well be a divining rod for the vendors on the beach. Like the neon signs that profess the resort at which they stay, their skin tells of their mailability to purchase our wares.
Blotchy red skin, although they stand out with a more prominent tone than the pale skin, is slightly less attractive. Red skin announces they have been here for at least a day, maybe two. Red skin likely still has money, but their affability has been hardened, a little. Red skin has heard the approach a few times already and although they may not be aware of it being a pitch, it is beginning to resemble white noise.
As the red skin begins to blend, these visitors are welcoming to the need to buy gifts for the loved ones and friends who are still at home, likely in a colder climate. A vendor, strong at their craft will be able to recognize the faces of these skins whose red has begun to melt into more of a light brown. The hard sell is not a strong strategy. Saying, “hello” when you first see the red as it morphs to light brown skin, this makes them your friend as you show your teeth with a kind and trusted smile. Recognizing the red to light brown skin is not enough, noticing who they are with is essential. The second, maybe the third time you see them mentioning that one of the wares you have would make a great gift for whomever they are with. You learn not to ask for a sale to the light brown skin right away. Instead, you ask, “wouldn’t your wife look great in this.” With your skilled eye, you hold out something that would match the wife in some masterful way. It hadn’t occurred to the light brown skin that they should make the day of their partner and even though they may not select what you handpicked for them, the thoughts of opening their wallet are available.
The brown skin can be sold to, but the brown skin is not likely going to buy. The brown skin is nearing the end of their vacation, their cash is more often than not already spent. They have been solicited to roundly for about a week. The brown skin is not inexperienced like the pale skin and their experience dismisses most every assailant. Brown skin often ignores the approach, or openly professes, “I’m not interested.” Offering little room to press forward with an answer that would not be a clear waste of sales time.
Offering you a memory of your time visiting the sands of my homeland I carry out my duty to match you with anything I can interest you. Upon the death of my father and brother I left school during my third year. If it were not for my sales, my mother, sister and grandmother, who makes most of the handmade jewelry would not be able to survive. There was no longer the opportunity for tuition to be paid as well. I dream to return to college. I intend to become a nurse. My dreams are on hold, but I am young and hardworking. I will find a way to achieve my dreams, but for now, I am paying close attention to the color of your skin.