Thursday, May 13, 2010

Service in the City: Breakfast Vendor

To wrap up the Service in the City series for this week, we'll talk to Akhmed, a breakfast cart vendor who serves up coffee, bagels, and pastries every morning to help sleepy workers start their day.

"Service in the City" doesn't end here. I'll occasionally add to this series as I collect more stories from service individuals. I urge you to talk to the service industry folks in your life, and if you'd like to feature them on Anthropology in Practice, drop me a line.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

Akhmed: I start my day at 2:30 in the morning. I leave my house at 3 am and I get on the spot at 5 o'clock. I set up the cart and get everything ready, and I start getting customers at 5:30 to 6 o'clock. I work until 11:30 and then I head home. When I get home at around one in the afternoon, I'm exhausted. [Right: Akhmed at his post in his coffee cart.]

Q: What is the most challenging issue you face relating to work?

Akhmed: The hours are a challenge. The time when I leave in the morning is hard. But the biggest challenge is here when I'm serving the people. Sometimes there's a long line, and I try to remember people's orders. I want to keep the line moving for the customers, so I work very quickly.

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Akhmed: The best thing is that it's my own job, and I work five days a week. I don't have to run for somebody else. It's just me. I'm my own boss. And everybody is happy for me—my daily customers, they're all happy for me.

Q: Given that your job requires you to interact with so many people on a daily basis, you likely see all sides of people. So what piece of advice would you offer them if you could?

Akhmed: People often complain that they're tired, that it's a long week, can't wait for the weekend. Always I am trying to give them a laugh. I want them to be happy, so that's what I would say—be happy.

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