I'm puzzled by these three sentences from Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo:
Heavy trucks went downtown bouncing, headed to the garment district or the meatpacking docks, and nobody saw them. They saw the cockney selling children's books from a cardboard box, making his pitch from his knees. Eric thought they were the same thing, these two, and the old Chinese was the same, doing acupoint massage, and the repair crew passing fiber-optic cable down a manhole from an enormous yellow spool.
Who is meant by 'these two,' the cockney and the heavy trucks (which seems weird to me since the trucks are not one single thing), the cockney and the cardboard box (which I also don't really believe) or something else?
I think there is no usable context in the preceding or following sentences.
[EDIT] Also, is it correct to assume that the (last) sentence would stay grammatically correct and preserve its meaning if it said 'and the old Chinese were the same' instead of 'was the same?'