It’s that time of the week. There’s no better feeling than showing up to campus and seeing the flood of white tents on the Foote Green. The University of Miami’s farmers’ market always gives students a reason to be excited for Hump Days.
What better way to cure stress than to stuff your face with food? Each week I quickly scan the faces at dozens of familiar booths, and one man always manages to successfully grab my attention. Whether it’s his charismatic charm or the rhythmic raps he projects, his booth, Jamaica Caribbean Things, always lures me in.
If you find yourself asking, “Who is this mysterious man who is so excited to sell turmeric, and why is he always rapping in my face?” look no further for your answer. His name is Herman, which he loves to explain. “When I’m with my wife, I am her man!” Herman and his wife had moved from Jamaica to Miami with hopes of building a more fruitful life (pun intended).
Herman’s first business venture in Miami was a record store, which didn’t do as well as he had hoped. Rather than let his failure discourage him, Herman used the experience to ensure the success of his next venture.
After countless hours of research, Herman decided to dive into the art of the sale. He was enthusiastic about the potential health benefits that turmeric beverages could provide to customers and subsequently launched Jamaica Caribbean Things. His personal favorite product is the sorrel juice — also known as hibiscus. Herman explained that hibiscus, a colorful plant whose flowers and leaves can be made into teas and liquid extracts, can help treat a variety of health conditions.
One of his most successful selling strategies, which he utilizes frequently at UM, is capturing customers’ attention. He uses his musical talent to create unique raps and rhymes about his products. “Have a little ginga, make you feel like a ninja!” Curious minds flock to the booth for his spirit and vibrantly-colored samples. These refreshing samples get students’ attention, but the real draw is the health benefits, which are listed on the booth. Herman uses his smart jingles and charisma to attract as many UM students as possible, and once a customer bites, he closes the deal like a pro.
What most people don’t realize is how much Herman cares about the UM student body. He gladly endures the blazing Miami heat in order to nurture the relationships he’s made along the way. His raps hold hidden wisdom and advice for the students that walk past him, and his favorite conversations are not about his business but about students’ aspirations for their futures.
Pensive to his core, his passion to delve into various religions and share his interpretations with students continue to intrigue the UM community every Wednesday. But “you can’t argue with a fool,” Herman joked. So next time you walk past the singing man who you think is simply humming to himself, take a second to listen to what he really has to say.
words_mallory garber photos_sydney burnett
This article was published in Distraction’s spring 2020 print issue.