It’s minutes after 5:00 pm on a Monday and we are in the bustling Sam Sharpe Square. The usual shouts of “One and ready” are distinct, but another cry is also heard: “Hot and ready! Egg sandwich!”
Finally! We’ve found them! Time to find out how the first egg got cracked for this.
We spot two yellow carts on one side of Lawrence Lane and a brown one on the other (good choice of colours, huh?) The first vendor we approach is actually the one who got in the business first.
Omarley Whylie aka Eggy (no need for any drum rolls!) started egg sandwiches on the last night of 2011, promptly starting 2012 on a new note.
“Mi come from town (Kingston) an’ mi never have nothin’ fi do and I ended up in the [Charles Gordon] market. I was even sleeping in the market, sometimes I would even go by Retirement dump to see what I could find. Mi walk the streets still and look at what was selling and mi never see no egg sandwich. I got some pieces of board by the market and built my first cart. First night I sold one tray a egg and two bread. I was so excited mi no sleep fi the whole day, second night two tray and four bread, and third night I come out with six bread and I only sell half a bread. The sales from the first two nights make mi know it can work, though, so mi never give up,” Whylie explained.
The original sandwich had eggs with frankfurters and plantains but as customer feedback and preferences took shape cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise and ketchup were eventually added.
“From mi launch out the egg business has been good to me. My cart was called ‘From Nothing to Something’ because [as a result] of this business I have my home, my bus and put my eight children through school,” Whylie added.
The business is not without low points as the impact of COVID-19 and run-ins with the police are issues. Whylie would be on the streets from 5:00 pm to 6:00 am with his customers made up of partygoers and people heading to and from work, but the restricted hours due to the curfew have put a damper on the business. Whylie is however looking forward to better times.
Westmoreland native Tajay Wright originally worked with Whylie but subsequently got his own cart and has been on his own since 2017.
“This business is a joy for me, it’s our hustlings still, but knowing that we are feeding people bring me some joy. My customers are loyal and we make sure we serve their needs. We prepare the sandwiches as quick as possible; persons are headed to work and time is always a factor. Some persons don’t eat franks and so we have two frying pans to take care of that. We have to make our customers happy. I want to add more options but the corona have me. When things lift up and get better I want to add fries as an option, natural blended juices and just more improvement,” Wright said.
The last to join the trio in 2019 is Marlon “Dangles” Palmer who, after nights of partying always observed the reaction of fellow partygoers buying egg sandwiches.
“I left Kingston and came to Montego Bay for a security job and I also worked in a call centre. Some nights after partying mi see how the people dem a gravitate and how the sellers were busy. I thought that this looked like a good business so mi just invest and jump out,” said Palmer.
“I’m the last to join so I had to make my thing different if it means adding spices, bologna and bacon. The others have established customers already, so mi have to hot up the thing and get some attention,” Palmer added.
— Text & photos by Aceion Cunningham
NB: Masks were removed for photos