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BY COLUMNISTS

| Joe Charlebois | Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Norman M. Covert | Hayden Duke | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Edward Lulie III | Tom McLaughlin | Patricia Price | Cindy A. Rose | Richard B. Weldon Jr. | Brooke Winn |

DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


July 22, 2015

Benefits and Detriments of My Enterprise

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I had been spending each evening selling my comic books on the river front. I would collect my blue folding table, a table cloth, a stool to sit on and my 10 copies.

My wife would add a bottle of water and some chocolates as an added treat. I would also dress in shorts and a t-shirt. It was much too warm for slacks and button down shirts.

I placed my table in front of the ramp that lead down to the river. The sampans would then pick up the customers for transport across. The other side was the Malay shore where tons of Malay food would be served for about $1.50. The dollar has been surging against the ringgit to the point where it is now 4:1 instead of three. A real good deal when you had access to the dollar like I do.

I usually sold at least three copies each two hour period, from 6:30 to 8:30 each evening, usually about seven. I did enjoy meeting people as I was the only white man on the riverfront selling anything. Most people did a double take as they saw me, wondering what I was doing.

There were very few strollers on the cement waterfront. Most of the western tourists were from Holland. You could tell them apart because they were always tall, well over six feet. They usually came strutting quickly passed nodding to my friendly good evenings. They always seemed in a hurry. I don't think I sold any to them.

The Malays, from the peninsula side, were always there to buy cake lapis, a layer cake that Sarawak is famous for. To me, it tasted like any other cake, but I guess it's like buying salt water taffy from the beach. They would come up the ramp from across the river where the cake was sold and nearly run back to their hotel room. I did a get a hello or two from the girls laden down with boxes of the pastry.

My favorite people were from Sabah, a state north of us on Borneo Island. They always came and, in the Queens English, chatted with me and after my sales pitch, usually bought a copy or two. They were always interested in me, like how long I had lived here, whether I was married and had any children and where I worked. Really charming people.

The worst people to sell to were the Chinese. They would come over, listen to sales pitch, ask questions and then leave. I got to the point where I would hide the magazine with my arms so they could not see it with their very curious looks. I really shouldn't say that as there were two Chinese people who did purchase the magazine (it was only $2.50) after an internal struggle which showed there face getting very scrunched up and an internal struggle ripping them apart inside.

The people I did talk to, English and Australians were given directions to the Iban Museum where there were beads from long ago, old cloth mats and Chinese figures from the 2nd Century. I also tried to answer their questions.

The sunsets are exquisite over the river and I have been watching Jupiter and Venus doing their dance as they wandered through the solar system. I really don't care if sell my magazines or not, the views are quite spectacular.

...Life is good. . . . .

 



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