Sunday, October 29, 2006


I've noted in a number of posts here in this blog the hard working men and women of South Philly who made their living doing everything from running the local candy store to collecting rags from a horse-drawn cart. All of us know folks who made their money honestly and worked their entire lives without complaint. They earned their entire living.

But on the street, there are always "entepreneurs" who strive to make a buck however they can. As you read this, you may be thinking that I'm referring to the local street pharmacists who stand on corners or make deliveries to the neighborhood junkies to keep them from going into withdraw.

I met on Oregon Avenue this week a certain salesman, trying to sell me something I got a day later for free. This guy already failed to sell me his product the minute he opened his mouth. A good salesman should know his customers. For some odd reason, this guy thinks my name is "Mazucca" and calls out to me, asking, "Hey Mazucca, you use Fusion razors? I got a load if you need them." I've had a number of guys on the street try to sell me everything from unbreakable drinking glasses (well, he said so, but wouldn't bang the mouth of the glass against his tailgate when I asked), pot, flimsy shirts, whatever. But the first ever time I found a neighborhood razor salesman.

Anyhow, the very next day, by way of the US Postal Service, what did I get in the mail? Yeah, you got it. A free Gillette Fusion razor. Pretty nice razor too, has five blades to make sure I get all the stubble. A plug for Gillette, I didn't nick myself at all when shaving with the Fusion, so you got my vote for razor of the year. That was Thursday, and on Friday, my brother too got one in the mail. Maybe all of the tri-state area males did. So where did this guy get his load of Fusions? Maybe stole a load from the local post office? Maybe they fell off the truck and landed at his feet? Who knows? But somewhere in South Philly, some knucklehead bought a Fusion or two at a deep discount, only to get one free the following day. Whatever happened to honest salesmen?

...The guys who used to try to sell you a VCR (or computer, or TV), but wouldn't allow you to open the box. "Bad for business, selling products in open cartons" they'd tell you. If you were foolish enough to buy them, I hope you enjoyed your carton of bricks. I've heard of a few guys who paid a hundred or so for them.

My favorite was the guy who approached me while I was working in Center City in the early 90s. Said he had a camcorder to sell. I asked to see it. "Can't open the box man" he told me. Said it was an 8mm VHS camera. "Which one?" I asked, "8mm or VHS?" "Yeah", that's the one" was his answer. He had to unload them quickly, the School District needed to clear their inventory and needed the cash. I could believe they were strapped for bucks, but since when does the Board of Education need to move inventory? Naturally, he got no sale from me.