The Crazy Things People Do for Money

Ariel Vardy - Senegal


May 2, 2013

Climbing up to a far and thin branch in a big tree, holding tight, they shift their weight to reach their hands into a hole in the tree, surrounded by hundreds of bees, trying to get honey.

Grabbing a big gun, a small sack of water, and walking into the forest for the night. They will be walking through the mountains knowing there are deadly snakes on the ground, and big monkeys and lions, crocodiles near the river, and warthogs. They will not have food with them, and they will go to kill a big gazelle, bringing it back in a sack that will sit on their head as they descend the mountain.

Grabbing their fat slow cow, and starting the 7 hour walk to the city. they will wake up early in the morning, walk to the city, sell the cow, and then walk back. they will arrive in the middle of the night, and sleep into the next day, waking up to the surprise of muscles too shocked to walk.

Pushing their body into a small hole, as they descend 30 meters under ground—a third of a football field. They will then dig until the dust makes them cough, until their muscles can’t dig. When they surface, covered head to toe in dirt, squinting at the surprise of the sun, exited to sift through their dirt to see if you got a small chunk of gold.

Climbing up 15 foot trees, inching far into weak branches, reaching out to grab fruits for the selling. It sounds pretty normal, until you remember all the funerals you went to for people who died of falling out the tree. If they don’t die though, they will harvest, pound and sell the fruit in powder form.

Waking up early in the morning to bike the 5 hour ride to Guinee to sell all the normal stuff that will be there weather or not they show up. They will switch their money into the Guineean money, and then sell it until the sun goes down and ride home.

Hiking up the mountain with upwards of fifty pounds of corn on their head, hoping to switch it into a grain called Funio and walking back down the mountain. When they get down the mountain, they will then be walking the hour and fifteen minuet journey back to their village. The end goal is to pound it three times over, and sell it for fifty cents more than the corn was worth.

Sitting all day next to piles and piles of mangoes. Morning. Afternoon. Night. 7-9 hours went by, so the kid can get 5 cents. They will then return the next day, and the day after that, and for two months they will be occupied guarding their mangos. Total profit? Three dollars. And that kid was lucky, because sometimes, they don’t get paid at all!

Sitting out in the sun, middle of the street, hottest part of the day, selling water to those who dare leave their houses. Does it sell? Can’t sell too well, because the sun will warm the water warm in which it can’t really quench thirst.

Waking up early in the morning to cut down trees until mid-day, then biking one village over to buy flour so they can make bread. They will then work from 2 o’clock until 7 o’clock making 50-80 loaves of bread so they can sell them at twenty cents a loaf. They will then walk around the village from 7 until 10 o’clock at night selling the bread door to door. No break from morning until 10 o’clock at night when all the bread is sold. What’s crazy about that? The person who does this job is me.

Ariel Vardy