Michael G., better known as “The Scribe,” recently fulfilled one of his greatest dreams: He danced with his daughter at her wedding.
A few months ago, Michael was distraught over the realization that he might not be able to make it to Columbus, Ohio, in order to see his daughter Sophia on her wedding day. The fear of missing out on such an important moment prompted him to write a poem titled Her Special Day, published in July in The Contributor. “For this, the death of me if I’m unable; yet I pray and pray for my timely arrival to see her on this, her special day,” he wrote.
Michael’s customers – he sells The Contributor seven days a week off Harding Place – read his poem and heard the news of the wedding in-person from him. Their reaction: to give to him so that he might be able to give his daughter the gift of his presence.
The donations came in the form of a Greyhound bus ticket. A hotel room. Money for expenses.
Michael made it to Sophia’s wedding, or as he said, “I made it and I made it in style.” Their generosity afforded him the joy of seeing his daughter in her wedding dress, but he said the moments waiting for a miracle gave him something else: a lesson in patience and trusting in God. “There’s no college that could teach me about what I learned about giving and receiving in the last 30 days,” he said.
It’s been three years since Michael was the subject of a Vendor Spotlight interview. Since he began selling The Contributor in 2013, he says he now has “a purpose in living and being.” He shares that purpose through his artwork, mostly played out on canvases with high-end acrylic paints.
Michael talks about his journey to The Contributor, future goals for his art and his daughter’s wedding in this week’s Vendor Spotlight.
How’d you get to Nashville?
It ties in with my daughter. I had a gig up in Michigan as a property caretaker and I was selling a lot of artwork. When the gig was up, I told my daughter I had to move. She lived in Nashville. In late May of 2010 … I told her I’m going to move there. Work was tough after that.
Did you have trouble finding a job?
I did some commercial painting then ended up at Vanderbilt for about three years. Then, I became homeless.
The biggest misconception (about homelessness) is that we’re all in need of drugs, or addicted to something or have no relationship with God. People think we’re just looking for a free handout, and we’re not. I’m not a lazy bum. I’m not afraid to work.
How did you find out about The Contributor?
I saw a guy selling it when I was stuck across the street homeless. I used to hold up a sign. I thought, “I’m going to buy a paper from him then get some information about how to do it.” Someone who was already doing it guided me.
What has been your experience selling The Contributor?
It’s a challenge. You know certain regular (customers) are there all the time, but you always see someone new. I set my frustrations aside and try to run the business on principle. If you put the time into your business and work, it’s always going to come back to you. When you quit, you’re going to lose a lot. You have to stay focused. It’s a hardcore business.
The true, loyal customers – that’s who I call my heroes every week. They’re there with that donation to say, “We want to help you.”
Tell me more about your customers.
They’re like my friends and family now. We communicate and share tears at times. We share my goals, and they share their dreams. I like to find out about them so that I can pray (for them).
What would you want to say to the customers who helped you make it to the wedding?
I had this serious dream, hope and commitment to get to my daughter’s wedding. I would tell my customers, “Thank you for helping me see this through.” If nothing else, this was the thing that I wanted to do.
What was the best part of being with your daughter on her wedding day?
Getting to be with her, dance with her, hug her and share some stories from when she was young. We’ve been good friends over the years and it meant everything to me and to her.
You said that selling The Contributor has given you purpose. What is your purpose now?
To establish my roots as a multi-medium artist here in Nashville. I’d like to move into mural work, which I’ve done in the past.
When did your desire to be an artist start?
I aced art in high school. A teacher told me that I was good at it. I didn’t realize it because I was chasing a lot of girls – it was 1978.
What inspires your art now?
The region and this area.