New York City, Times Square- As the sun emerges and the birds begin to chirp in Times Square, New York the sizzling of meat being prepared is heard in the distance alongside countless people walking and cars beeping, but as your mind drifts to New York understand that this is not a regular time, face masks are worn, and many people do not want to be approached. Welcome to New York City (NYC), and the people on its streets.
During this past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a forever burden on people, and it has been a struggle for everyone in the world especially for the ones who cannot work remotely from home.
The many street vendors people pass in NYC have been working on the streets for decades and because of this pandemic they have seen little to no people because people are afraid of contracting the Corona Virus. These vendors who people used to see when riding on a subway or pass on your way to work have been struggling and some have reached their breaking point. Since the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, this is the biggest virus to hit NYC, the city went from a place that never sleeps to one you could sleep in, only in a matter of months.
“the strongest will survive”
There have been a bunch of people in NYC who have struggled like Rob Dumont, a local street vendor who you would buy gum from or maybe even a newspaper on a regular day. When asked how long Dumont has been working at a vendor location near Times Square, he says, “All my life”. Dumont has not seen any new faces since the start of the pandemic but believes that the summertime will be the best of times for his small business.
He says, “the strongest will survive” and as he explains his story during COVID-19 he uses short sentences and seems to be out of touch. Dumont believes that this job is only for the ones that are willing to stick through it and although he has not personally seen anyone go homeless in his group of friends, he seems to believe there are many street vendors like him who have it a lot worse. These people go unnoticed at times and many people go day to day in NYC with out paying them any attention.
People like David Adrinola have been on the streets of NYC selling hats and shirts for years at a time. Adrinola has been on the streets for 25 years and he has seen a lot of these people struggle every day more so now than any other time he can remember. Adrinola had a rough time in the beginning of COVID-19 with the curfew that was put on many visitors and resident of NYC being on the streets in 2020, how was he going to support his family?
He says, “early last year when everything was shut down, so we stay home for like three months, we just come back a couple of months ago, but it looks like this is getting back to normal you know, a lot of people more people come in here”.
“early last year when everything was shut down, so we stay home for like three months, we just come back a couple of months ago, but it looks like this is getting back to normal you know, a lot of people more people come in here”.
Adrinola is an immigrant from Africa and English is not his first language given his heavy accent, but he is affected the same way as any American would be more so and selling hats is his way of supporting his family. It is clear to see how much the pandemic has affected Adrinola as he had to stay inside for months with his family and now there seems to be progression in this pandemic where things are looking up for him in the future.
There is a different type of vendor that are seen dancing in the subway or in Times Square and these people are called street performers. Anthony Jackson and his brothers as he calls them are performers in NYC and you may see them surrounded by cones and following strict rules to do their job. These rules are enforced by the police for Buskers or Street Performers. The Buskers or Street Performers must follow these rules for them not to be shut down.
These performers usually bring people together to watch them perform but during a pandemic it is not an ideal time for people to gather. Jackson made it work or is making it work with a smile on his face. He seems to love the people he performs with and although in the beginning of COVID-19 this was unheard of there is a light at the end of this COVID tunnel. With the vaccine for COVID-19 being distributed to all adults and soon adolescents and children and whispers of Herd Immunity a brighter future is ahead.
People like Jackson are performing more now and bringing in bigger crowds and more money each day the struggles of 2020 seem to be fading.
These people you used to pass on the streets or subways everyday going to work are still there. And they need to work just like the people in the news and on TV, and they all deserve to see a better future because for some this is all they know and all they have. So, when you pass a street vendor or performer on the street think of Rob Dumont, David Adrinola, and Anthony Jackson to remind you that they too have a family to feed and they keep the streets of New York alive, even during the worst of times.
- For more info read this Bloomberg article to hear about the fight many vendors are still going through during COVID-19.
About the Author: James Battle
James Battle was a Montclair State University Student who Graduated in June of 2021. He studied Sports Journalism and TV/Film. He currently works as an assistant for Josh Shull who has worked on projects for MTV and big movies like the Avengers as well as events like the NBA Awards as a Producer.