Word about Victor precedes meeting him. He’s one of The Contributor’s newer vendors, but he’s already got a reputation as “a trip,” “a character,” and “really something.”
Victor is a popular and well-known figure around the offices of The Contributor and Room In the Inn, where the magazine is housed. Mention his name, and staff, volunteers and vendors alike chuckle and shake their heads.
“He’s always after a deal and looking for an angle,” says Contributor volunteer Andy Shapiro. “He’s hustling: One day, he tried to pay with Canadian money.” (“It’s legal money!” Victor protests.)
“If there’s a five (magazines) for $5 deal on a Monday, but Monday is a holiday, he thinks Tuesday should have the same deal,” Shapiro adds.
Meanwhile, an older resident of Room In The Inn walks by, sees Victor, and hollers his nickname: “Baby Tramp!” The name, Victor says, stems from when he first landed at the Nashville Union Rescue Mission at 18-years-old, the youngest out of the group of homeless men.
One might not suspect his career with The Contributor got off to an inauspicious beginning. He admits he initially went to training only to earn Room In The Inn points.
“Me and (Program Manager) Carolina (Smith) didn’t get along at first, but we made it through training” he says. “He did appear to be sleeping,” laughs Smith of Victor’s stint in vendor training. “But I quizzed him, and he knew all the info.”
Since then, every day has been exciting, says Victor. “A couple from Florida was visiting, and I met them when I was selling,” he says. “They said of all the stuff they did in Nashville, all the museums they went to, everything downtown, they said meeting me was the best part.”
Victor stays in touch with the couple, now back home, who send him care packages. “The Contributor has opened a lot of doors and a lot of blessings have come,” Victor says. “Years ago if you had told me I’d be doing this — changing lives, writing (for the magazine), I’d have laughed."
Working for The Contributor has given Victor a new purpose in life, he says. “You can contribute a good thought, a good feeling, and something people don’t have,” he concludes.