It’s Not An “Orange” Boys, But I Love the Schtick

It’s Not An “Orange” Boys, But I Love the Schtick

My last few trips to the Kitchener Market on Saturday morning, I’ve noticed some of the younger vendors–kids really–working the stalls, performing various tasks, and interacting with customers.

Some of them are very, very smooth. They often really know their stuff and you can tell they are generally pretty engaged, despite being awake since an ungodly 4 a.m.

I noticed one kid, perhaps eight or nine years old, wearing an apron and loading pails and buckets onto a rack for some purpose or other. He moved about doing the chore effortlessly and with an alacrity and a nonchalance that spoke to how often he had done the job.

At other points, I’ve purchased goods from a young teen, but I wasn’t sure if she was hired help or a farm family member. It didn’t matter: they’re doing a honest day’s work and I can only imagine many years from now that they might reflect how great the gig was and how much they learned.

Let’s be realistic, however. There are lots of young workers at the Market just putting in time and going through the motions. It doesn’t matter whether they are produce re-sellers and have no idea what kale is except that you buy it at the big food terminal in Toronto, or whether they are part of a family that has been planting and pulling stuff from the ground for four generations. Kids are kids.

Honeybell 2

Luscious, nippley honeybells from the Market Stall Irregulars.

I got a real hoot, however, from a couple of enterprising guys who were pretty slick and had down a good and crafty routine for selling some citrus. They didn’t know really what they were selling and probably couldn’t tell a mule’s ass end from a bowl of forelles. They certainly didn’t realize that they could have read the fruit sticker on their product to learn what it was they were doing such a good job of selling so well.

They’d learned the gimmick somewhere–the movies, You Tube, observing what was around them. They had the theatrical hawkers’ cries and inflections. They had the Artful Dodger patter down. They knew how to banter back and forth between each other. They had a spiel and a schtick they used to lure buyers to their stall.

Like I say, the problem was they didn’t know what they were selling.

But I wanted oranges and they seemed like nice kids–I took the schtick and decided I was going to give these guys, a couple of the Baker Street Irregulars, my hard-earned simoleans.

I was curious about the shape of one of their two products, so I asked, “What are these?”

They said, “Oranges.”

I said, “Yes, they are orange in colour but they don’t look like oranges I’ve ever seen. They have rather large, um, nipples.”

The one kid says, while giggling, “Sir, they’re oranges. Do you want to buy some?”

I said, “Sure.”

And it was done.

What I had purchased was a variety of citrus hybrid called a tangelo. This one turned out to be a Minneola, eponymously named for the city in Florida. The slick sales guys had picked a pretty tough fruit to not know anything about because, although many of the hybrids have been around since the early 1900s, the combinations and permutations of grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, and pomelos make for difficult differentiation.

The Minneola is also called a honeybell. It’s a nice name, and it’s very juicy. The true ones are hybrids of Duncan grapefruits and Dancy tangerines, if you must know. They have been around since the 1930s.

I haven’t been around that long, but I wasn’t born yesterday and know that these two vendors were wily and crafty–and didn’t know what they were talking about when it came to fruit. But I’m okay with that: they had priced their stock quite low and it was a great (and undervalued) bargain. And that’s just fine by me.

Keep at it, boys!





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