By May 8, 2013 1 Comments

The Day I Sold Newspapers in London!

standardI was in my final years at college in London and I used to walk to college every day.  On my way, I would pass familiar faces and I always waved hello – I knew most of them by name, including the postman, milkman, refuse collectors and Liam, the newspaper seller by Bond Street Station.  London back in the late eighties was very different from today, people were friendlier, the pace was slower and people cared.

One day as I was passing Liam who was selling his stack of the ‘Standard Newspapers’  he called out to me.

“Please mate can I ask you for a big favour”
“Sure, what is it?”
“I need to rush to the bathroom… can I ask you to keep an eye on things for me at the stall please?”
“Yes, no problem, you go ahead.”
“You sure?”
“Absolutely…”

With that he grabbed one of his newspapers and rushed down to Bond Street Station which meant that he will be gone for a while.  Oh well…

I stood there, not knowing what to do, watching people buzzing past and then a gentleman walked up, casually plucked one of the newspapers and placed £0.20 pence on the table.  I just muttered thank you, I was shy, and before long the process was repeated by others and it got complicated when I had to nervously produce change for one of the customers but eventually I calmed down and started to see things in a different light. I went along with the show and declared myself as ‘Garo, the newspaper seller of London!’

I have seen sellers shout the newspaper name before for attention but not Liam, he never needed to since human traffic was phenomenal at the entrance of Bond Street Station.  All the same, I started shouting out “STANDARD….   STANDARD…. Get your STANDARD”   I added some humour to it and started inviting people round, “Don’t be shy mister… ere’s your Standard to take home…”

My accent had transformed into a cringing fake Cockney twang but the people loved it and found it hilarious, they were amused…

My enterprise grew and soon I found myself overwhelmed with hands, coins and newspapers but somehow I managed to keep control.  One very posh elderly English man tried to jump the queue and grab a newspaper and I pulled it from his hand “Oi give it back!” He looked puzzled, so I put out my hand and motioned to him to pay me, which he did.  I gave the newspaper back to him with a smile and he smiled back although still puzzled.  Another man in a rush was trying to place the coins in my hand by pushing through others and I told him to calm down or I’ll stitch him up with yesterday’s paper… more laughs!

After some good fun, Liam returned and apologized again.  He was impressed that I did actually sell a few good papers which he was away.  I told him that I really enjoyed the experience and he was amused…

“Garo, your parents are sending you to an expensive college in London.   Your dad is a politician in Lebanon and here you are selling papers on the streets of London!”

As surreal as it was, the experience also taught me that all honest work is dignified and it was an experience that I will never forget…

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