Nha Trang street venders are tamer than the hawkers in other parts of the world. They roam the streets selling everything from paintings and sunglasses to seashell jewelry. Cigarette girls and book sellers tend to be the boldest, sometimes walking right into a bar-restaurant to push their goods. They earn a higher income than the cooks, waiters, or bartenders of those establishments from making just a few grossly over-priced sales each month. Well-dressed, they often park new motorbikes out of view to walk the streets peddling their wares. Most understand the word 'No!' and quickly move on to other prospects without whining or bickering.
I have high regards for the lottery ticket sellers.
They have to qualify and be licensed by the government to sell their product. They are usually older women, smaller than recent generations, and dress in a more traditional style; flower-printed pajamas and cone-hats. Some have minor disabilities and many are war widows. They tend to ignore foreigners and walk right on by, but always seem quick to return a nod or a smile. Westerners rarely buy from them. Their customers are generally taxi drivers, shopkeepers, or restaurant workers who all have a meager but steady income and are willing to spare a few thousand Dong for a chance to win up to 125 million. One night a blood-curdling scream shrieked out of the kitchen at the Spot where Wilson's wife, Tuyet, won 1.8 million; more than a month's wage for the average worker.
I admired all of the street peddlers.
The peanut guy
My favorite was probably the disabled peanut vender because he never pestered people, foreign or domestic, unless they had bought from him before. He looked to be in his late thirties; too young to be a casualty of the American or Cambodian wars. The man was always cheerful, well groomed, and sharply dressed with clean slacks and a button-up collared shirt. He maneuvered a blue three-wheeled cyclo that was specially modified to pedal and steer with his hands. One day, a bus horn politely beeped from behind him at an intersection where the traffic light had turned to green. The peanut guy dismounted, hobbled to the bus door dragging a badly twisted leg and foot and asked
the driver how many bags of peanuts he wanted.