Last Saturday, Patty I were selling Beadmomma jewelry (my wife’s company) at a local farmer’s market. It is a beautiful location on Lake Michigan, with sailboats in their slips just a few yards behind us, a historical lighthouse visible as we looked down the street just across an inlet, and museums along the way. Different musicians were playing throughout the market’s array of venders of food, produce, flowers, bakeries, and all manner of fun things for sale. The weather was fabulous, sunny and mild, which may be why the crowd was huge and people seemed to be a such good mood. We had a good day of sales, to boot.
A man with Proteus syndrome (Elephant Man’s Disease) sat on the wall directly behind us eating lunch with people who I think were his family. I reminded myself not to stare, and also, not to avoid looking his direction, which made me even more self-conscious about what my response should be. I love the fact that he had the courage to be there and apparently, he had a loving and supportive family.
Doing these outdoor events with Patty is a lot of work. The canopy, tables, and all of the other stuff needed to set up our little store fills our SUV. Set up and take down each takes about an hour because of all of the little pieces of jewelry that need to be unpacked and displayed. Sitting outside, often in the sun, for several hours is draining too. So, when the market is over, we (and every other vender) are ready to get out of there in a hurry.
The market was over and we were putting things away when a small disheveled woman began looking over the jewelry that was still on display. Her comments were over the top about how beautiful everything was, what a bargain it was, and so forth. She talked non-stop and was oblivious to the unwritten rules about personal space. She was mentally ill. The poor soul talked about how she needed something to wear to the jazz and blues festival that evening. We got the feeling that she used to a part of the high society crowd.
She had no money, but pulled out a credit card. So, I was attempted to log into our iPhone credit card app, but could not seem to get the password right. I am sure that it had something to do with her nonstop chatter a few inches from my nose. Finally, I was locked out of the app. She was disappointed. I apologized and directed her to a restaurant just a few yards away for an ATM, but she moved on to talk to another vender who was also trying pack up her stuff. After she left, Patty and I had decided to give her the necklace, but we couldn’t find her. It was an afterthought and we were too slow to come up with the idea.
We still were not done with our day there. We had almost all of the jewelry put away when an 86-year-old grandmother and her two granddaughters showed up. The granddaughters had been by our tent earlier, but their grandma was at the other end of the market and unable to walk that far. So, they drove her several blocks around the pedestrian plaza to our end of the market. She wanted ear rings and finally decided on two pair. Patty changed the ear rings to clip-ons on the spot for her since her ears were not pierced. Grandma kept looking trying to find gifts for others in her family. She was a slow shopper, but she and her granddaughters were really sweet. We were the last of about a hundred venders to get out of there.
The man with the deformity, the mentally ill lady, and the slow shopping grandma are people who deserve our patience, kindness, and love.
I was reminded we each share the same ultimate value and worth.
It was a good day at the market!