Street Vendors and Traffic Situations

Or – The “science” of how vendors predict traffic jams.

Haven’t you always wondered how street vendors seem to appear out of nowhere when a traffic jam occurs? I mean, say, you are driving on a clear highway and then an accident happens some 300 meters ahead of you. Don’t you notice how, suddenly, there are street vendors (even carwash boys who will offer to clean your windshield) hovering around your car offering you goodies.

And the worse the traffic, the more diverse the products these vendors offer.

I went and asked one street vendor (he is called a “takatak boy” because he sells cigarettes by continuously clicking the sides of the case he carries creating that takatak sound) and he said he just hangs by the sidewalk the whole day.

Photo by JP Afunggol

Ordinarily, he says he is a sidewalk vendor, but when a traffic jam happens, he picks up his box and enters the street to sell to the drivers stuck in traffic. It is easy to get a sale he says, because today drivers get so irritated that they end up buying something just to get some form of relief. Now I don’t know the psychology behind this, but I have observed it to have some truth to it.

So!!! How do you know that you are in trouble entering a road just by looking at the ambulant street vendors walking around your car?

Well here is one good answer from a friend of mine, Leslie Sy, who gets trapped in traffic more often than the ordinary dude for some confounded reason he himself could not fathom!!!

  1. 1. Cigarettes and Sampaguita – Normal Trafffic
  2. 2. Bottles of water and candy – Moderate Traffic
  3. 3. Peanuts, corn, packed snacks, various fruits – Heavy Traffic
  4. 4. Beds, toys, potted plants, fishing rods – Parking Lot

So, the next time you are about to get into a major artery, try looking out for the vendors around you. If you see any of the kinds enumerated above, then you can make an early judgement and hopefully avoid a traffic jam.

If that is even possible in Metro Manila!!!

The author is a certified motorhead and has been a journalist for the past 30 years. He will be a journalist all his life. He thinks he is famous and his mother agrees. His father has another opinion on that matter.
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