Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 13: I Am Wiped Out

Today I went out vending with the number one vendor here at the shelter. Vending means selling the Homeless Voice newspaper although there's no real set price. People can give as much as they'd like or they can get one for free if they want.

I hear there's a firm competition with the vendors here. Every day you come home from work someone asks, "How much did you bring in?"

It's annoying to me because I am not competitive but for others, it's their pride and joy. Vending is not as easy as it looks. The ones who bring in the big bucks have a specific strategy for selling. Others just stand around and hope someone gives.

I use my personality like I did when I was a waitress and I usually make good money. A percentage of the money we collect is given back to us so the more you work, the more money you can put away in savings. I hear if you don't have a bank account, the shelter will save the money for you.

I couldn't work the entire day. It was way too hot and my arm was hurting from all the change I collected during the morning. My legs were burning and so were my lips. My shoulder was in pain too. I felt like a wimp as I watched my "co workers" fly up and down the median all day long as though they had no problem. They were all considerably older than I am and I felt like such a punk for quitting early because I couldn't take the sun beaming down on me anymore.

The lead vendor is around 50 years old. I'll call her Kelly. Kelly says she has been living at the shelter for 3 years after kicking an addiction to crack.

She said the shelter saved her and gave her something productive to do with her time. Instead of using her intelligence and street skills to get more money for drugs, she now saves and enjoys her life as a vendor bringing in nearly $400 a day.

She said she hit rock bottom when she was living on the streets and a police officer picked her and her husband up and brought her here.

She said she and her husband used to own their own home but the addiction got the best of them and they began selling everything to get more drugs. They even sold their home.

But all of those memories are fading away now and Kelly is much better.

I'm tired. I had to wash up in the bathroom tonight and now I'm sitting on my mat. I'm sure I'm about to go to sleep at any time but it's still very loud on the patio where I sleep.

Oh! Good news!

Two of the vendors came to me today to say that they had received large donations from people who said they saw me on the news and wanted to give.

"This one guy said you were awesome!" someone told me. "He chased me down to ask me about you and to give a donation."

Isn't that awesome?!!!

I did meet a man while I was donating today who screamed out, "You're the lady from the news!"

I smiled and walked over to his car and he gave me $2.

I would write more but my body is aching and I am tired.

I really can't wait until this project is over. I fantasize daily about sleeping in a bed again.

A big bed. With clean sheets. A nice hot shower.

My sons.

My laptop.

You know, the best things life has to offer.

I can't wait.



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