tangier men drinking coffee waiting for work
photo: peggy markel

The streets of Tangier in North Africa are a mix of the ancient and the contemporary but some traditions still hold fast. Outdoor cafes are populated with men who seem to sit for hours on end, drinking strong coffee or Moroccan ‘whiskey’ – gunpowder green tea with loads of fresh mint and sugar. Passing the day in conversation or sitting quietly is normal. But every day? Don’t they work? I wondered.

“They are working”, said our friend Said. “Did you see the paint bucket sitting on the side of the street?

There were other strange looking contraptions beside it. A coil of steel. A faucet on a stand…

photo: peggy markel

“These are business cards. If you need the service they are advertising like painting, plumbing, or something electrical, you go to the nearest cafe’ and ask, ‘who does the electrical? This is what I need…’

In Morocco there is all the time in the world. Sometimes it takes hours even a day or two to come to an agreement on what needs to be done for what price. If it gets heated, someone leaves, then comes back when he’s cooled off. Eventually they come to a deal.”

Ah, such direct and simple brilliance…

Ecological: no cards to be printed.
Economical: no office or telephone needed.
Location? Changeable.
Hours? Variable.
How to advertise? Improvise!

photo: peggy markel

Peggy Markel

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