Aílton Manuel da Silva is not your usual waiter. He dresses as one, carries himself as one and even sports a tray full of cold drinks and snacks, but instead of a restaurant or a cafe, he works in the streets, braving the hot sun and incoming traffic to provide for his family. He is the “traffic waiter” of Recife, and probably the world’s most elegant street vendor.
Every morning at 5 a.m., 43-year-old Aílton Manuel da Silva wakes up, puts on his creased pants, white shirt, bow tie and lacquered shoes and leaves for work. He arrives at the busy intersection of Avenida Almirante Dias Fernandes and Rua Emiliano Ribeiro at around 5:30 and gets ready for a long day of waiting through traffic. He prepares his bottles of cold water, cans of soda and snacks like popcorn and chips, sets them neatly on his metal tray, and at 7 in the morning he steps into traffic to offer motorists his assortment of refreshments.