The Shouters

I don’t know what job title is printed on their business cards, if they have cards at all, but I call them “the shouters”. At first glance, they appear to do nothing more than annoy potential customers outside the entrance of a store by shouting repetitively at the top of their lungs through a megaphone.

But this is not the case. In fact, I have been told, they are actually there to attract customers to the shops with their unique and incessant brand of ear-splitting street marketing.

Sometimes businesses next door to each other both employ shouters, the effect of which is rival shouters standing just meters apart, letting loose in simultaneous and sustained torrents of verbosity as if their very lives depended on it. So dedicated and loyal are these employees that they will stand practically side by side, engaging in such an all-out battle of vocal supremacy that no one passing by, even if they were trying to listen, could possibly understand what either of them are saying. It all just blends into a cacophonous firefight of sound and near-hysteria.

Some shops, in a kind of arms race of attention-getting, issue their shouters a ladder and a flag, to better be heard and seen over rival shouters and the natural din of the city. So there a lone man stands, balanced precariously on top of a cheap aluminum ladder, frantically waving his flag and screaming into his cone, earnestly trying to impart to the sea-like throng of people frothing beneath his little island just how much they can save on detergent at his pharmacy, or whatnot.

You have to hand it to the guys, though. They do this for hours, without once stopping, turning in the direction of their counterpart and saying (perhaps through the cone), “Please. Let’s stop this madness”.

You have to respect something about that. You do. But you also have to worry about the shouters, with their rickety little ladders, their sweatily urgent devotion to inherently hum-drum promotions and the ever-present risk, of course, of an entire livelihood tragically cut short by a single, niggling throat nodule.