lowbrowculture

collects stories and ideas from John Kelly

Cheap

Near my house is a daily street market with stalls where you can buy all sorts of things. I sometimes buy household items here. Cheese graters and slotted spoons and the like. Things I can use in the kitchen, but don’t need top-class quality from.

Walking past these stalls last night, I saw the vendors packing away their things. They had a whole box of cheap, cloth dolls. Each one identical, in its little plastic bag, neatly stacked into the box. And I have to be honest, it depressed the fuck out of me.

Because, let’s face it, these dolls were made in some sweat-shop somewhere. Someone was paid a bowl of rice a day to churn out these little things. To the street-vendors who sell them, they’re just another product they’ve gotten a shipment of and they need to sell. Next week, it could be socks, it doesn’t matter to them. And who would buy these things? They’re not the kinds of dolls that make you stand up and take notice. They’re little, cloth knockoffs that cost maybe a euro, assuming you don’t fancy haggling the vendor down.

So there’s two possibilties. The first is that no-one, from the person who made it to the person who bought it, cares even slightly about this little doll. For some reason, this really depresses me, but then I’ve always ascribed human emotions to inanimate things. When I was younger, I used to feel sorry for the toys I didn’t play with as much as others, because I thought they felt left out.

The other possibility is that this doll will go to someone who will love this doll beyond any reasonable expectation, not really knowing or caring about its past. This will be their doll, the kind that gets all grotty from being dragged around everywhere and this cheap, ratty doll will get more love than most of us could even possibly imagine.

I’m not sure if this is more or less depressing than the first possibility.

But then I realised how judgemental I was being and that depressed me, too.