With. Out. Fail.
I’ve seen him there determined to ignore the blistering sun that leathered his face and soaked his donated t-shirt. I’ve seen him standing diligently while snow fell in haphazard piles on his tattered beanie and worn shoulders. I’ve seen him stand relentless in his makeshift rain slicker (aka a large trash bag with head and arm holes cut out – and a Kroger bag tied do-rag-style to protect his head).
I have to say… I’m really impressed. So why did it take me until today to roll down my window and thrust a few bills in his direction? He merely leaned in through my passenger window and handed me the “new edition” and said, “Thank you ma’am… God bless you”.
“You’re welcome”, I said nice and awkwardly. “Wait! What’s you’re name?”
“Oh, um… Johnny. I mean, John. Well, okay… call me Johnny”.
“Okay Johnny. You’re doing a great job. I mean, I like seeing you here every morning. You’re pretty faithful.”
“Yes, ma’am. Thank you.”
Johnny. I bet if I’d known his name I would have bought a paper long before today.
I’ve seen a lot of these vendors around town. But I’ve felt loyal to Johnny because he’s just at the end of my street… the corner of Eastland and 14th. It’s a pretty good corner. The only 4-way stop in a busy avenue that feeds most of the neighborhood into the main boulevard. Johnny is a smart entrepreneur.
I guess my hesitation stemmed from some lingering skepticism that they were no different than the folks standing on the corners with “Will Work For Food” signs. Accept these guys (and gals) are already working. This is their job. And for many of them, like Johnny, who may have mental or other disabilities… they’re not finding any other options. But don’t get me started – that’s a whole other blog.
I’m actually enjoying the paper. According to an article in The Contributor the folks standing on corners with papers are vendors. They purchase the newspapers for .25 cents each and sell them for $1.00. They’re allowed to keep all proceeds plus tips. So, yes… please tip.
Anyway, if you have one of these vendors in your neighborhood… please take a moment and a few dollars and help employ someone who has otherwise been deemed unemployable. And ask their name. Knowing their name will make all the difference.