Last weekend, a chow vendor dubbed “Chow King” went viral on social media after being arrested for illegally selling his goods in the Croisee Plaza, in San Juan.
But while he accepts responsibility for breaking the law, he stands by his reaction to the officers trying to take him into custody.
“When the officer put the handcuff on me, I told him I had an injury in my hand but he didn’t care he was bending my hand, I have proof to show … and they didn’t know that I was medically injured,” Joshua Faltine, 20, told Guardian Media in an interview.
At the age of 15, Faltine was the victim of a drive by shooting and it’s changed his life forever.
“As a youth, going movie towne... I jumped in a maxi to go home and when I was approaching some people were shooting at the maxi... bullets were all over the maxi. I got shot in my chest and the bullet lodged in my shoulder,” he said.
Still lodged there to this day, the bullet is still causing him agony in more ways than just physically, and to top it all off, he was not compensated. It’s why he said he has no choice but to be an entrepreneur.
“When you go by a bossman and he say lift up that and you can’t lift it up, it have 20 other youths willing to lift it up. I have to work for myself.”
His first attempt at an honest living was selling bottled water at the Mr D’or traffic lights in 2020 shortly after the pandemic took root.
But like many others globally, he was forced to innovate. Realising he had access to hundreds of mangoes, Faltine entered the chow business. Selling mango and pineapple chow he saw it as a way to interact with the public.
“It is a very exciting job, I love it,” he said.
He accepts that he broke the law by pedaling his chow despite his previous warnings, however, insists that he needs to work to provide for himself.
“I was illegally vending, that was a chance, I know the risk, so I take all wrongs for that.”
Despite the interactions with the police and being upset, Faltine noted that the 2017 incident made him “watch life in a different way” and that “crime doesn’t pay.”
“I could’ve chosen to be bad but it doesn’t make sense,” he stated.
He now dreams of opening a chow store in Trinidad and hopefully one day to reach international levels.
On hearing of Faltine’s situation, citizens along with the chairman of Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation, Kwasi Robinson, offered the 20-year-old assistance and hope to have him working by Friday.
Robinson was able to secure Faltine a spot at the Food Village at the Eddie Hart Savannah in Tacarigua hoping it to be an opportunity at a second chance for the young vendor.
“As a young man who has the right idea, he might have went about it the wrong way so we have a chance at redemption... it’s about us coming together as a community Trinidad and Tobago, the young man and the corporation to just try and improve the situation,” he said.
After the altercation with three police officers on Saturday, Faltine was slapped with seven charges including resisting arrest, illegally vending in public and violation of an officer.