There are no walls between the booths except perhaps a tarp for shade.
There is no privacy, as everyone hears everything from everywhere.
Vendors know neighbors like the villagers of old,
know generations of each other’s clans.
The closeness is infectious and affects the customers,
who also become part of this unlikely tribe of strangers.
Most of the people walking by live all alone
in small apartments with their dog or cat.
Some work all day at jobs that they don’t like,
forbidden by insurers from even making friends at work
Young people are too poor to have children,
and old people don’t get to live with theirs.
Neighbors and friends are sure to move away
until TV becomes a substitute for every human bond.
At one time people knew their neighbors, til TV made them afraid.
Doors became closed to the companions right next door.
In times past people ate with other people more,
danced with them, celebrated with them.
They had extended families with whom they could share their lives.
Now they come home to empty rooms, not the full cottage humans always found before.
Instead of gathering at communal fires
they turn on a TV, which is, at least, a human voice.
They can come here and peer into the window of the close-knit swap meet folks,
their intimate family that excludes no one.
Vendors can tell the serious buyers from those that aren’t,
and it is often on the latter that they lavish time.
It is to these that they often give things away
that have some little nick or crack, which the collectors wouldn’t buy.
Then that person goes home clutching their prize,
which otherwise would’ve been set next to the trash cans for the scavengers to get.
Each time they see it in their room
they think about the vendor’s kindness and feel less alone.