My role models in life have always been men with no frills who do not hesitate to get their hands dirty in the process of making an honest living. This is a brief tribute to one of them.
I once knew a Provedore.
An occupation proudly announced on his simple business card.
His name was Arthur. A large, quiet, and amiable gentle man, who, in his seventies, would never have entertained the idea of retirement from his one man business.
Arthur would never be seen without his trademark well-worn khaki shorts and shirt, greengrocers apron, two-wheeled trolley, a limp, and a rusting and rattling little flatbed truck which, on the outside, looked almost as old as Arthur himself but was probably not.
He would come to the Saturday Rusty's markets in Cairns looking for the best quality fruit and vegetables from Atherton Tableland growers which he would then take back to his little warehouse stacked high with recycled vegetable boxes, before sorting it all out and delivering orders to ships berthed at the wharf.
Small ships. Coastal trading vessels which ply the channel inside the Great Barrier Reef serving all the remote communities North to the tip of Cape York Peninsula.
We were proud that he chose to buy our sweet potato, taro, cassava and yams.
Occasionally his payment cheques would bounce, because you see, Arthur was, first and foremost, a Provedore.
Accounting and the management of money came in a very long last in his list of priorities. We were always eventually paid the full amounts, including the $20 bank bouncing fee, in cash.
One day around the end of the last century he collapsed and died, surrounded by fruit and vegetables, in his warehouse.
A body worn out by a life of hard work which just refused to travel any more miles or carry any more boxes.
I think he would have liked the final curtain to fall like that.
My Collins Dictionary no longer includes the word Provedore.
R.I.P. Arthur Dun, role model, friend, the last, and the very best of Provedores.