I expected a lot more yelling at an auction, then again I had never been to an auction before, so I suppose my expectations were solely based on movie stereotypes.
I had never been to an auction before, let alone a fish auction.
It’s funny how you learn secrets to the tricks of the trade when you started getting into the business of a particular trade. When the doors to our café opened, we started learning a lot of tricks of the café trade – namely attending fish auctions to get the freshest seafood at the lowest cost. This was my first time attending a fish market auction. I know what you’re thinking, “A fish auction? What even is that?” Yeah, I know, it sounds wild. Thankfully, it wasn’t all that wild at all – just a little fishy.
The road trip it took to get there was much longer than the 15 minutes I was assured when my mom talked me into attending the auction the night before. I had no idea what to expect – chaos most likely, a lot of yelling and hollering. I had mentally prepared myself the night before to either, be slapped by a slimy fish or step into a puddle of fishy water (thankfully neither happened). We eventually arrived at our destination as I voiced my intimidation of the anticipated yelling to which my dad responded, “they don’t yell. They whisper.” The man wasn’t joking.
We walked up to the circle of auctioneers, spectators, loiterers and fishermen just as 15 kilograms’ worth of large shrimp were dumped on the ground. There it was, the heap of gold we drove 35 minutes into a rural fishing village for. The crowd started murmuring and I could begin to distinguish the ‘regular’ auctioneers from the ordinary crowd. The lanky fisherman was tugged at the arm by a man and a deal was whispered in his ear. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was as if stepping on the auction grounds instantaneously came with the adoption of a new culture – a culture I had never witnessed before. Watching the scene unfold was entertaining and intimidating and marvellous, all at the same time.
I guess the slight intimidation was mutually felt by my mom too, but mixed in with exuberance, she looked over to my dad for confirmation of the shrimps’ high quality and freshness and dove into the crowd. She was headed straight for the fisherman. She quickly named her price and a second passed while he considered the offer. He nodded and my mom flashed a cheeky, triumphant grin. Cash was traded and Dad carted off our winnings. It all happened so fast. I watched from the sidelines, for the next 30 minutes, as their confidence grew alongside our bucket of fresh seafood. Most of the seafood was carted off to the café’s kitchen, but I managed to snag a crab and a handful of shrimp for myself. Oh, happy days!