The one thing I have to do is thank The Contributor for one thing: I have turned myself into a writer. It started with poems and now has moved to articles.
The last one I turned in for publication was published the next week. That made me very proud of myself and my work. If it were not for The Contributor, I never would have picked up a pen and put it to paper.
Now I am working on Hallmark cards, American Greetings and other magazines. I am even trying my hand at a few songs.
I want to be a professional writer and I know I can do it.
The one – and I think the most important – thing that I have learned is if you did not live it or feel it in your heart, then you can’t write it.
I was in the office buying papers the other day and one of the volunteers was reading my article and I said, “I need to take a writing class.” She said, “No you don’t. You are doing the same things I teach my students every day.” That also made me feel proud.
Another thing I have learned about writing is if a person moans, sighs or grunts, smiles or cries while they are reading what I have written, I have gotten through to them and they feel where I am coming from.
My badge number is 0121 and I have been a vendor since August 2010. The best thing about the paper is, and you will hear every vendor say the same thing, is the people you meet, your customers. I have a couple I call “Ma and Pa Kettel.” I have come to love them dearly. I can’t tell you all they have done for me. Not just money or clothes, but the friendship and love they have given me. When I am not at work, they wonder where I am. I had a heart attack and I was down for six months. When I returned to work, there they were wondering what had happened to me. The first thing I got was a big hug and a kiss from Ma and a handshake from Pa, along with $50 to help me get back on my feet. Then they gave me their phone number so I could get in touch with them if I needed anything. Now that’s love.
The volunteers are the greatest you have ever seen anywhere. There is one lady from the show Nashville who helps out. I won’t embarrass her by calling her name because she does what she does from her heart, not for the notoriety. We thank her very much.
Some of the vendors I work with are cool, too. We have developed great friendships. If a vendor needs help with money for papers, we are always there for each other.
I enjoy selling the paper. You work when you want to and get out of it what you put into it. I know vendors who have gotten cars. I myself have sold over 22,000 papers in six years and have maintained housing the whole time. That’s one more person who is not on the streets. I owe this to the city of Nashville. They support us. We were the number one paper in the country for a long time.
Tasha (Lemley) and Tom (Wills), I just wanted you to know that you have my heartfelt gratitude and thank you for what you have done and continue to do every day to ensure I have a job. Some people, services and programs around the city do not consider our work as a job. To them, I say follow me for a week. I bet you can't hang.