This holiday season, Street Roots vendors offer up some of their favorite memories with their customers. What follows is a sampling of the many experiences that happen daily between vendors and readers. From all of the vendors, thank you for your support and have a happy holiday!
One of my customers she goes out there and help others to help bolster their spirits. She’s so amazing. She has so many things happening with her and yet she’s making it her personal mission to help others. This is one person that makes me glad to be spiritual.
— Saul Cortes
When I was working at Rite Aid I met a Christian lady who really liked Street Roots. We were talking about God and we all prayed–it was me, Don and her–and afterwards she gave us a $20, and she also bought a paper from me and we exchanged numbers; now she’s my roommate! There was another time where I was on the bus mall over on sixth and this beautiful lady came by and I explained Street Roots to her and she handed me a 20 dollar bill. I thanked her, and she just looked at me and smiled and went on.
— Cynthia Foix
When I get a poem published in the paper I take it, sell one to my manager in my apartment building and I also sell one to my friend Dave, then I take one to Jessie, Valerie, Laurie and Kat, and I sell one to Nick. They like my poetry.
— Dennis Rollins
My interactions have been very positive, especially with my regular customers. They’re glad to see that I’m inside, they’re glad to see that I’m staying sober. It’s been really beneficial.
— Jim Dienes
When I was selling a while back, I found a wallet and inside it was the business card of one of my regular customers. The address was close by, so I called her and told her I’d take it to her address because sometimes if you throw it in the mailbox it will take three weeks to get there. So I just took it down there and the doorman came out and took the wallet. About three hours later this guy showed up and gave me $100, told me it was from Tara and she appreciated me bringing her wallet back.
— Bill Yates
We’d like to give a special thanks to our regular customers Anne and Bill.
— Paula and John
I was selling papers last Christmas Day on North Mississippi and Shaver and it had been a bad day. Fresh Pot, the coffee shop, was closed, so mainly people were walking their dogs. There were many people just coming by and wishing me Merry Christmas. I was quite depressed, but when a regular customer came by with his chocolate lab, Patches (I always remember the dogs’ names), we had a long chat. As the conversation ended, the customer placed an envelope in my pocket.
I was thinking it was a Christmas card and nothing else, as I had received about four cards the day before. It really was a sad day thinking I would make it back to Troutdale and sleep at the transit center in my car.
When I got back to the transit center, I sat in my car listening to the radio. I opened the cards I’d received that day. Three cards wished me a Merry Christmas, one had a gift card from New Seasons, and another held a $5 gift card. The final card I opened astonished me most. There was a $100 bill inside. To this day, I am most grateful to the person who gave me this gift. I was totally astonished.
— Duane Rick Wagner
They’re really nice to me over at New Seasons—some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Not a lot of people appreciate vendors, but those folks are nice to me. I’ve got a good place to sell. They give me gingerbread, burritos. They really look out for me.
— John Munro
As I departed from the steps of the Greyhound Bus, on Aug. 4, 2011, I totally didn’t know what to expect. Coming from a climate consisting of my work as a journalist, literary artist, activist, poet and a Revolutionary Legal Scholar (a title given to me by Tiny Lisa Gray-Garcia, co-founder of POOR Magazine), it all became chaotic for me. I was crushed inside, by wicked covert and overt circumstances that surrounded me, a honey hive hounded by killer bees triggering my PTSD.
For the sake of my sanity and soul, I sadly departed from the community of San Francisco I built a seven-year relationship with.
Looking back, it was a true act of fate for me to venture forward.
A good friend of mine, Bob Offer-Westort, civil rights organizer for the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness put me in touch with Street Roots. Four months of homelessness later, my inner darkness of despair began to disperse daily as each new friendly, (and even a frowning) face embraced me into their lives as one of their own.
One such person is Mary Anne Joyce, a nurse case manager at the Standard Insurance Building, located at Southwest Fourth adn Taylor Street. Very warm and friendly exchanges between us with every single encounter. Bearing beneath her is an exterior of an inner no nonsense attitude, and wearing a full zest for life aura. Upon our very first meeting, we were equally surprised that Cleveland, Ohio, was our hometown.
She, alongside many Street Roots supporters, constantly compliments me on my positive attitude and appearance.
Mary Anne Joyce, the community, loving supporters, and Street Roots renew my faith in humanity; and helps sustain my sanity towards success from duress.
— Marlon Crump
One of my most memorable moments was when a guy came, grabbed a chair and sat down next to me. We started talking. He saw my key tags from recovery and he said he was just returning to Portland. We hit it off. We exchanged numbers and keep in contact. It seems Street Roots is helping me meet a lot of good people.
— Jacob Anderson
One of my regulars came up to me and said, “Hi, how are you? I haven’t seen you.” I was in a bad mood and I said, It doesn’t matter any more. She asked, “Why? We started talking, she bought a paper from me and she said, “Well, who would sell me my papers? I look forward to seeing you. Life’s not that bad.” And she walked into Fred Meyer and bought me a $30 gift card. That really brightened up my day. She restored my faith in humanity.
— Cassidy Morse
I have a customer who is a financial adviser and he always stops to talk with me for long periods of time, a really good, decent, Christian guy. He’s told me several times that I’m a good man. Back in July I was having a really bad month and I was way behind on making my rent. He showed up and asked how things were going. I wasn’t trying to hit him up for money or play up his sympathies, I just told him the truth, that for the first time it looked like I wouldn’t make my rent by the first and I was worried about getting a late fee and all that stuff. Two days before the end of the month he donated enough money to pay my rent for me.
— Frank Hodges
I sold a paper to Suzanne Bonamici before she was elected to the House. She was very nice and she is much shorter in person than she is in her TV ads. I am in Earl Blumenauer’s district, but I work in hers, so it was nice to see her.
— John R. Brown
I was selling on Broadway and I like to sing out there. I was in a Shakespeare play once, so I was reciting Hamlet loudly in a British accent. And when I was done I said, “Yes, that was Shakespeare.” About 10 minutes later, a lady came back and said, “Yeah, that was Shakespeare. I thought you were just a crazy guy out there talking.” And she smiled and bought a paper. It was a nice moment.
— John Michael Christian
Last winter I needed a coat, when to my surprise a gentleman at the Walgreen’s I was working at gave me a large Adidas, heavy sport-type coat. Everybody then, it seemed wanted to know if I was from Cincinnati, OH. No, I’m not, I’d say politely. But thanks for asking!
Although my coat is very tattered now from another 90 percent or so of a homeless year since then, I’m now finally in temporary housing, where I’m able to have clothing, showers, meals and more!
There are no guarantees, even for the well-off among us, where we will be tomorrow, much less a year from now, but the repercussions of a right thing done in a right way will last forever. So thanks to my many many wonderful customers always. God bless and happy holidays!
— Ron Sanford
I love my customers and they love me day by day. I sell the paper at the SW 4th and Oak Starbucks and the Southwest Sixth and Stark Street food carts. I’ve made a very big friendship with them even with the police. Even they come to buy the paper, they stop me and say hello and ask how I’ve been.
— Tibor Szjako
If you sell Street Roots for a period of time you remember the face, but can’t always remember the name. A familiar face stopped by to get a paper in a cold November rain. It was dark out and he dropped the bill in the old candy jar asking how accessible the director of Street Roots was. I said he was very easy to talk to and always took time for everyone. He said he wanted to know somewhere to take the kids in his Sunday school class to handout hygiene kits to the homeless. I suggested Potluck in the Park and the director would have the contact information for the man who organizes that Sunday event. When he left I pulled the bill out of the jar before it got too wet and saw it was a 20 dollar bill.
— Dan Newth
One customer, who’s become one of my favorites, he’s been my customer for a couple of years, we talk every time he comes to buy a paper. And I told him my teeth have been hurting and my insurance doesn’t cover it, and I’ve got no choice but to get dentures soon. It’s very hard to save the amount of money needed. We’ve talked about it a couple of times at length, and he knows that my daughter’s been sending me a little bit of money so I’ve been squirrelling it away slowly. My customer asked me how much it would cost for my dentures, and I told him I wasn’t really sure. I think it’s going to be up somewhere around $1,000. He came back the next day with an envelope and said he wanted to contribute to the cause, that it’s a good cause, that he couldn’t see me in pain out here every day. He gave me an envelope with $250 in it, and he told me to use it when I was ready. I tried to deny the money right away, said I wasn’t sure if I was ready to do it. That I didn’t want to have it in my possession in case I needed to spend it on something else. He said that if I had to spend it it was probably needed to be spent, and I should use it as my own discretion. He said he believed in me, believed it was a good cause and he wanted to contribute. That action is such a sincere compliment. I’m just the guy on the corner he met two years ago and we became friends through slowly talking. I made a friend. I made an advocate.
— Raymond Thornton
I lost my wallet recently and David Smith, the man who manages the place I’ve been staying while I’m homeless, came up to me after walking all the way down the road to the Starbucks to find me and he told me he was sorry I lost my wallet and handed me 20 bucks and said “I hope this gets you to replace what you lost.”
— Darryl Goeas
I wish everyone a warm, good Christmas. I hope that everyone stays warm during the holidays and through the winter, and I really appreciate the customers that help out and buy a paper even though they already have one. The regular customers out there who really appreciate the paper, I really appreciate them.
— Jason Mitchell
Thank you to all the employees at Interstate New Seasons, especially Molly for being so incredibly helpful over the past year.
— Steve Hill and his dog Kayla
I got $20 the other day and got so excited. I didn’t even know who the guy was, that’s what blew my mind. I just got overly excited about it. I wish I knew who it was, though. I keep wanting to ask people.
— Wayne Moore
I do extra work for a guy who does ATM machines around town. Last year, he asked me if I wanted to start working for him part time. When I first started working for him, we were out checking machines and he counted out $2,000 and he handed me the money and said he wanted me to double-check it. He took off, so I counted it in his rig and there was an extra $100 there, so it was actually $2100, so he was testing me to see if I was going to pocket the money, which I didn’t, of course. And ever since then we’ve been close. I do his house work, whatever he asks me to do. It’s cool. He helps me out a lot. It came from Street Roots.
— Jeff McCall
A lady walked by during my sales pitch and said, “You’re not a Navy veteran.” I simply replied, “Ma’am, here is my ID,” to offer proof. She then apologized and said, “God bless your heart, here take the day off,” explaining to me that her whole family was in the service as she handed me a 50 dollar bill.
Another time a customer told me he loved Street Roots but was 60 cents short on buying the paper. So I responded, saying, “Well sir, I’m a businessman and I’m not going to refuse you a paper because you only have 40 cents.” I gave him a paper and told him that customers and outstanding customer service is the foundation on which every business should stand. As I proceeded to close the sale and said, “May peace and blessings surround your day.” A few days later he came by and gave me a 20 dollar bill. “Keep up the good work,” he said.
— Don Grubb
Early last year, a regular customer of mine who never purchases the paper but always gives me a dollar when I see him, complained about the Notre Dame hat that I was wearing. He gave me a Stanford hat right after Andrew Luck was drafted No. 1 in the draft and commented on the fact that Oregon had knocked them out of the national championship game last year. Then this year Stanford went to Oregon and knocked them out of the national championship game and he said I should now be wearing the hat that said, To Gus, #42, John Elway. I think it’s ironic that they both knocked each other out, and now Notre Dame, the hat that he wanted me to get rid of, is now number one in place of Stanford, whose hat he wants me to wear now.
— Rick Buck
One of my customers, Michael, is a prosecutor. He read my article when I first started and became my regular customer in May. I’ve known him for about six months. He’s a really good guy, and he buys my paper faithfully. He says he likes a lot of things: the politics of it, the economy of it. He was telling me it’s very informative and you need a newspaper like this for people who do need money in their pocket. He’s a really good man. We’ll converse, he’ll walk his two poodles, he’s a really good guy and he’s one of my favorites.
— Earl Bennett
Compiled by Cole Merkel