Kevin Page has no doubt his neighbourhood’s young avocado seller will go far in the field of commerce. Photo / 123rf
In my day job, I regularly come across people with an entrepreneurial spirit who are “having a go”.
I find it all quite interesting, particularly as I am working on my own little project
at the moment. I’m sure I mentioned it a few weeks back.
What impresses me is that these people have, essentially, thrown caution to the wind and are trying to make a living doing their own thing, be it decorating cakes or doing lawns and gardens. The attitude seems to be nothing ventured, nothing gained.
With my own project — which obviously will see me one day writing this column from my swish apartment in New York — I am moving at glacial pace and seem to be finding fresh obstacles to sort before I press the start button.
It’s a bit like being scared to start — and now I’ve started thinking if I can’t sort that out in my head maybe it’s not such a good idea to go into business for myself after all.
Mrs P and I were pondering that matter last week on a walk around the neighbourhood when we came across a wee chap who embodied the spirit of the youthful entrepreneur.
He was, I’d guess, maybe 8 or 9 and was sitting out front of what I presume was his home. He was selling avocados, which were neatly piled up on a small table, a handwritten sign offered the avos for $1 each.
At this point, I’d ask you all to cast your mind back to the time you came across such an individual, usually with two or three friends.
We’ve all seen them, haven’t we? Kids sitting out front selling lemons, feijoas, freshly squeezed lemonade, cookies etc. Sound familiar?
I’m betting most of us at some stage have stopped and thrown a bit of spare change their way as the excitement level grows exponentially on the other side of the counter.
On this occasion, Mrs P and I were essentially destitute. Not a cent was to be found in the lining of any jacket or the deepest recesses of jacket pockets. But, My Beloved told the young fellow, we would immediately go home to get some cash and be right back.
The canny chappy said he would put four of his best avocados aside for us.
With that, we headed home to search for gold.
As we walked I recalled our own brood trying to make a few bob when they were younger.
We had a couple of lemon trees at the old place so, naturally, there were regular lemonade stalls out the front. I recall the kids did very well out of it some summers.
Commercial opportunity on a regular basis definitely appealed to No.1 Son, now a freshly minted surgeon.
We recalled how one year up at the beach he arrived back at our digs minus his boogie board. Some older guy had it, he explained when questioned.
Mrs P was rolling up her sleeves and ready to do battle before the full story emerged.
No.1 Son had been happily enjoying a fun time on his board as the older bloke, a fellow in his teens and of good nature it has to be said, was enjoying fun a short way away with his mates.
To cut a long story short, the bodysurfing prowess of No.1 Son caught the eye of the teen who asked if he could have a go on his board.
No.1 Son said he was heading home for lunch … but he was happy to rent it out for an hour.
Apparently happy with the proposal, the teen had coughed up $10. And just to show he was no mug, No.1 Son had also managed to secure a deposit of a further $10 just in case the teen buggered off with the board.
He didn’t, and duly exchanged it for his $10 deposit an hour or so later with Mrs P watching the transaction from a distance — which suggested that were there to be any skulduggery, the future existence of the teen on this planet would be called into question.
We found some cash at our humble abode and headed back to the avocado seller.
On the way Mrs P remembered her own touch of entrepreneurial magic when, as an early primary school youngster, she had cleaned her mother’s garage from top to bottom, put up a black curtain backdrop and built a stage with the help of her older brother.
Then she’d gone up and down the street selling tickets to a dance recital for which she was, of course, the star.
On the big night, friends and neighbours got into the spirit of things and a dozen or so people turned up to see Mrs P perform her own interpretation of a 30-second ballet movement she had learned only the Thursday before.
Apparently, she just repeated the simple movement continuously for about 15 minutes until Mum rescued the evening with an offer of a cup of tea for the audience.
Fifty-odd years later, as we walked back to the avocado seller, we could laugh about it. And in the back of my mind, I have a little proposal for Mrs P that will get my garage cleaned out at the same time. More on that later.
So here we are back at the stall and, as promised, the wee fellow has kept aside four nice avos for Mrs P. He’s even put them in a Vogel’s plastic bread bag. There were enough crumbs still in it to suggest he had merely gone inside and tipped the contents out. His mum would probably find a pile of sliced bread sitting on her kitchen bench some time soon.
Mrs P handed over a $5 note and we congratulated him on his efforts.
Happy to pay above the asking price, I nonetheless thought I’d try to teach him a lesson in arithmetic and tease him a little bit.
“Is there any change?” I asked innocently. “We bought four avos at $1 each so that’s $4. I just gave you $5.”
His response left me with no doubt this boy would go far in the field of commerce.
“The extra $1 was for the bag,” he said.