Wednesday, April 19, 2006


by Skald

Some of the freest people Ive met are the street vendors and micro-entrepreneurs of Thailand. What wonderful people. What a wonderful lifestyle.

These are folks who "work for themselves" in the very best sense of that phrase.

People without a boss. Without timesheets. Who work when they want to; and dont when they dont. These are people who are not in a rush.... who are generally happy to share a drink and chat with their customers; who seem not to distinguish between work, play, and socializing.

Its not uncommon to find a vendor sitting on a blanket with a group of friends-- sharing a beer, food sprawled next to the goods for sale. Contrast this with America, where wage-slave employees are punished for talking to friends "on the clock"... where "efficiency" is God.

There is humanity in the Thai street vendors way of life... none in the American employee's. For the Thai, "work" is as much about camaraderie as profit. "Efficiency" is not a word one hears often in Thailand... on the street or in the office.

The same is true in India. Indian micro-entrepreneurs LOVE to chat. In fact, I often sensed they were disappointed with the "show me the money" mindset of their western customers. They seemed to delight in the process as much as the exchange of money... The invitation to the shop, sharing tea and shooting the shit, the long and elaborate display of goods, the humorous drama of haggling, the thanks and congratulations once the deal is concluded.

This is the kind of ease... the kind of humanity.. you find only among the free. No wage slave institution can reproduce it (nor do they want to). As an employee, work is a faceless, vulgar, dehumanizing affair.

But not so on the streets of many countries. In these places we gain a glimpse of another way... a small-scale, autonomous, pleasant means of "making a living".

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