Why I Don’t Go To The Market

I wish I could go to the market. Coronation Market, specifically. It’s so much cheaper to buy your fruits and vegetables

there, rather than the supermarket.

But I can’t go to the market. At least, not by myself. Because I simply do not speak the language necessary to get the market prices. I do not speak patois.

Now hear mi good: I LOVE Patois

. It’s just that I’m a HORRIBLE patois-speaker. I understand patois quite well – after all, I was born in Jamaica, raised in Jamaica. Never lived anywhere else but Yaad. But for some inexplicable reason, when I try to speak patois, I sound very… uhm… you know, wrong. No matter how hard I try to sound like what I am, a Yaadie, within 3 milliseconds of attempting to speak patois, I’m outed as the fake that I am.

Which is what happened on my very first trip to Coronation Market. I went with a good friend of mine, a seasoned Coronation-Market-Goer. I had dressed very carefully in my most raggedy pair of jeans, complete with strategically-placed holes and frayed hems; a t-shirt; white sneakers, which I stepped on for a bit to make them look less white.

My girlfriend, a seamstress and designer, was dressed in a outfit she’d made for herself that very morning. Coordinated shorts and blouse. Green piped with deep orange. Complementary shoes and bag.

So we hit the Market and began to shop. I was quite proud of myself, walking with my little crocus-bag thingy, asking market women for so many pounds of this and that, pulling the exact change from various pockets in my jeans.

Proud of myself… Until my girlfriend came to check on me. She didn’t think I was doing so well. I was spending too much money. Then she heard me address a woman selling vegetables:

“Excuse me,” I said politely. “How much a pound is it for your tomatoes?”

My friend immediately pushed me away from the scene of my crime, and took over the shopping process. “You hold the bag, Nicky. I will shop. Yuh nuh bodda talk. When yuh talk a beer tourist price yuh a go get.”

Then she returned to the market lady.

“Mawnin’. How yuh ah sell di salad dem todeh?”

My friend bought my tomatoes at a much lower price than what I was quoted. I kid you not.

I’ve gone to the market on other occasions, but always with someone else. They do all the bargaining. I give them my list, I hold my bag, I hand them the money for each purchase. I follow backa dem as they push their way through the crowded market stalls

. They shout, “Gimme way! Mi a pass! Oy deh!”

I barely manage to restrain myself from saying “Excuse me please… Sorry I stepped on your toe… Uhm, sir, your cart is in my way… Could you nudge it to the left just a touch, so I can pass?”

But now my Coronation Market-going friends have moved away. So… until someone else in my circle decides to start shopping at the market, I am doomed to paying higher prices in the supermarkets in Upper Sen awndru (St. Andrew, in case that was too hard to read).


Smaddy help mi nuh. Do.

About the author

NicoléWalton Sharpe