How long have you been a vendor with The Contributor?
Probably about five years now.
Do you have a spot where you typically sell?
It’s Main Street and First Avenue (in Franklin). I’ve been there about two or three years now.
Have you developed a relationship with customers there?
Yeah, I’ve got a lot of customers and people like friends. I pretty much know who’s gonna buy the paper, who ain’t gonna buy the paper, and I make new friends. I’ve been there so long I just know my friends, y’know. I walk car to car and talk to them all. They roll down the window, they might not buy a paper, we just talk and stuff. They’re real good people, they’re real nice. One time I was having a bad day, I wasn’t doing too good. I was just sitting there, I guess looking depressed, and a guy’s wife called her husband at home and told him, and he came out and brought me a $20 bill and some food, I guess to make me feel better. He said his wife called home and said I looked depressed today, I’ll go check on him.
Where’d you get your “I Love Jesus” hat?
A customer bought me three of them. I was just standing outside on the road one day. She said, “one second,” and she pulled out three of them and gave me them, and I wear them all the time. A black one, a red one, and a blue one. I wear the blue one the most, I don’t really know why.
What does your religion mean to you?
At first I didn’t think I could go out there and stand and sell this paper. But I got to thinking, look what Jesus has done for me. I can go stand on the corner and sell the paper, that ain’t nothing compared to what he’s done for me. I pray every day before I start. I couldn’t do it without Jesus. I say a prayer for everybody that comes down my road, even the ones that don’t like me, who are hollering and hooting and cussing at me. I just ask the Lord to look over everybody who comes through my spot today, make them have a good day and be safe, and forgive us and watch over us in the best way he can.
What brought you to The Contributor?
I stayed at the Mission before I started at The Contributor. ... I was working down by the Mission, I was taking people in my car down to the stores and stuff, and they’d pay me $3 to take them to the store and back to the Mission, or temporary service to their job. I’d seen a guy that I took from the Mission to a store, and he had on a Contributor badge, and he told me where to go to, and that’s how I started out, I signed up.
After The Contributor, I never went back to the Mission. I didn’t have to go back. ... When I first started, all I had was 15 papers. I went to Mount Juliet, and they ran me out of Mount Juliet. I had $4 left, and Mount Juliet said I had to have a permit, but I didn’t make enough money to get a permit yet. So I put my last $4 in my gas tank and took my chances and went to Franklin, and thank God they let me work there. They didn’t run me off. I stayed there three days three nights in my car, I made $208, I got me a hotel and I ain’t been homeless since. Now I’ve got my own apartment and a car.
What do you like about selling The Contributor?
I like making my own money, and really I like being my own boss. I make my own hours, and all the friends I made. More friends than I ever thought I would’ve had. Good people ... These are good people in Franklin. Sometimes they take me out to eat and I go eat with them.
Your faith is very important to you. What else is important to you?
I live with my girlfriend Gina. She got her job out there too. She got it through me, through one of my customers. She was working for The Contributor too, just for a little while. Now she’s a caretaker at a nursing home. She loves her job out there.
Anything you’d want to say to your customers?
I shouldn’t have to say that – they all know I love them, I tell them I love them and thank Jesus for them. Because without them I wouldn’t have what I’ve got now. I appreciate everything they do for me and they know it, I’m sure they know it. I know they work hard for their money and I do the right thing with it. That’s what The Contributor was designed for, and that’s what I’ve used it for. I never believed it would work, but it worked.