Max Harrison-Caldwell
February 21, 2017

Spain is home to a unique brand of salesperson. This person stands outside a restaurant on a lively street or plaza and tries to entice passersby to come in. The salesperson generally can say “Are you hungry? Do you want a drink?” in at least three languages and may try all of them on any unsuspecting tourist who glances confusedly in their direction. A few weeks ago I was seated at an outside table and ended up chatting with the restaurant’s salesman. I asked him if he liked his job, explaining that to my knowledge it didn’t exist in the U.S. He told me it was fine, that he liked being outside, that he liked to watch what happened on the street. Standing for hours at a time and being rejected by countless pedestrians seemed trying but the idea of people-watching professionally appealed to me. The salesman can observe the passing crowds without belonging to them or feeling obliged to intervene in their activity. He is working, after all.

On Saturday, walking to a Granada tapas bar, my friends and I saw a young woman attacking an older one. Both women appeared homeless and the younger woman was unsteady on her feet, berating her elder with great ferocity. She pushed the older woman several times and each time the woman would stumble, regain her balance, tell her attacker to leave her alone, and keep walking. We had seen this cycle a few times when two young restaurant saleswomen walked up to us, smiling broadly, and said:

“¡Hola chicos! ¿Te apetece una copa?” We shook our heads no and were ready to continue on our way when one of the saleswomen gasped. Up the street, the young assailant had knocked the older woman to the ground.

“¿Pero pegando a una mujer mayor?” the woman asked us disgustedly as we stood there slack-jawed, watching the scene unfold. What she meant was, Why aren’t you helping her? She immediately rushed over to the victim and asked if she was okay, helped her up, and held her antagonist at bay. She walked the older woman to the square where we were standing. As she passed our group, still spectating and unsure what to do, she shot us a dirty look and muttered, “cobardes.”

It came out that the older woman’s tormentor was her daughter, enraged by a perceived betrayal. While concerned locals surrounded the mother, the daughter walked towards us, unsure of where her target had gone. One of my friends called out to her, telling her that her mother had gone in the opposite direction. The daughter looked at him and with a sorrowful expression said,

“Que seas honesto, por favor. Que estoy borracha.” He assured her that he was telling the truth and she put her hands together and nodded respectfully at him before trekking off away from the crowd, unwittingly leaving her poor mother in peace. I commended my friend on his quick thinking and called out thanks to the saleswoman, but she was already walking back towards her restaurant and didn’t turn around.


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Max Harrison-Caldwell

<p>I&rsquo;m a Spanish major in my third year at Occidental College. I want to pursue a career in journalism after graduating so right now I&rsquo;m trying to get as much writing experience as I can. In addition to writing, I like skateboarding and pita chips.</p>

2017 Spring
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