If you’re a Brown student, recent grad, or frequent traverser of Thayer Street, this “Registered Peddler” (as his official button reads) should look familiar to you. More importantly, he is our first interviewee. This is how the conversation started:
“Hello, I’m working on a project and would love to speak with you. Are you interested in participating?”
(A few seconds later) “What kind of project? Are you studying journalism? What bag you got there– University of Rhode Island? What are you going to ask me?” He narrowed his eyes and waited.
I slipped my notebook and camera into my pocket and proceeded casually, responding to his questions one by one.
“Oh, Brown,” he sneered, “What do you guys have like 5,000 students there? You all spend your money here and there (gestures to the Brown Bookstore across the street) and never at my table! There’s 5,000 of you there and billions of people in the world. I’ll let you know something– you get out in the real world and things aren’t so easy…”
One can guess how this continued. But we moved onto other topics– his hometown in Spain and how he’s taught himself guitar (and saxophone, the harmonica, bongo drums, etc… everything except trombone– for some reason that’s where he drew the line). Eventually, he remembered why we were talking in the first place:
“So what are you going to ask me?”
“Er…. what makes you happy?”
He looked amused. “Sales! I want people to buy my things!”
I nodded, a bit disappointed by the simplicity of this answer, given the fact that he’s a peddler and I’d already regretfully informed him I had no cash with me. I asked if by “sales” he essentially meant “money”.
“Money?” he repeated, dumbfounded. “That’s what they teach you at that school. They take your money and teach you money’ll make you happy. No– I make all of this jewelry by hand and take pride in selling my artwork! You know, I’ve had art students from Brown and RISD tell me this stuff isn’t bad– see how I used a double weave on those bracelets? …”
In the end, he told me it’s the pride he feels when others appreciate his artistic taste that makes him happy.
“You can’t generalize, though. People want to generalize, you know, and say everyone thinks this way. You can’t assume everyone thinks this way–you gotta get out in the world and–”
I know, I said. Gotta get out and ask people from all different backgrounds– so that’s what we’ll do. Stay tuned!