Whenever it rains in New York, the street vendors come out in full force to hawk umbrellas, but I could never figure out why they were more aggressive with their sales pitch than any other person along Times Square.
The knockoff wallet dude is always chill, sitting along the sidewalk playing dominoes with cell phone cover guy. As soon as it starts to get cloudy and if I’m walking down the street without an umbrella, I get yelled at African immigrants, like I wandered into a war zone from a conflict I feel guilty that I don’t know enough about. Or a soccer match.
I used to think that it had to do with basic opportunism, that when it rains, they have to meet their monthly quota of five dollar umbrellas that will collapse in an hour. But I think I realized that they are yelling so many words in such a frenzy because so many of the umbrella vendors come from places where it doesn’t rain.
That completely explains it, because the yelling is partly out of a panic for, “Dear God, what the hell is happening,” and they have to try and sell their wares in the moment I walk past them, but they don’t have a cultural link to the phrase, “Would you like to buy an umbrella?”
Therefore, what I interpret as yelling, is really them kindly saying, “Buy a water sky cover roof no wall protection heaven wet fall rubber device miracle building handheld!”
It’s like if I were to move to the African plains, and suddenly found myself in a stampede, it would take me a minute to come up with the word stampede since I’d have no idea what was going on. So in yelling at people, I’d say, “Animal zoo moving forward giraffe lionhead stomp bad ouch no!”
The moral is that we have to use Martin Luther King Day to reflect on cultural differences. Even if buying an umbrella is as easy as, “No sky bad water deflection house stop now!”