Blog post by Sibyl W, a Kindness Investor from Brentwood, Tenn.
I noticed Brian several months ago, standing on a corner selling newspapers; I even bought a paper from him once. The paper, The Contributor, contains stories and poetry written by homeless or formerly homeless citizens. I thought he would be a great recipient of the day’s $10. I stopped and asked Brian what led him to sell the paper.
“I just started doing this in December. I’d been doing ironwork, but the trade has been dwindling down and the guy I worked for was a small outfit so he was about ready to lose everything. See that roof over there on that bank; I did that building about 20 years ago. I’ve been an ironworker for 25 years and I hope I get called back.
“But that’s why I started selling this paper. It got to where I’m behind, but I’m not going to lose what I’ve got. But it’s hard; I get out 5-6 days a week, if weather permits. I’ve got family to take care of.”
I asked Brian if he had a place to live.
“Yeah, I pay rent every week, if I don’t have it one week; I catch him (landlord) up the next week. He’s really good like that. There’s good people out there and before I started doing this with The Contributor I also gave to everybody. Even though I’m doing this, if I see other contributors, I give them a dollar or whatever I can spare. We’re all in the same boat. There’s like 400 of us. I drive down here from Nashville because there’s so many people in downtown you can’t get a good spot.
“But doing this I have also received a lot. One month a guy gave me $200 dollars and the next month he gave me $200 more. I bought four brand new tires with it; I put it to good use. He took me to lunch the other day, bought lunch, but I left the tip. I said look I know you want to do this, but I have to do something too. “
Brian waved to someone. “There goes my mailman. See, I got regulars out here. “While he’s sitting at the red light, the mailman hollers, “Hey there’s no telling what he’ll tell you.” But then he laughs and says, “Just kidding, it’s all good.” I wonder what other drivers were thinking, seeing us standing on a street corner laughing, waving, and having a good time.
Brian explained that, “There’s people like me standing out here trying to make a dollar. Like when you leave here, I’ll walk up and down this sidewalk as much as I can. You know if you sit at home you’re not going to make any money. And in reality, it keeps me up and keeps me healthy because once you start sitting idle you can hang it up.
“Basically I’m out here trying to make a living. And I do love being a pioneer because you ain’t gotta answer to anybody; you just have to think about what the Lord’s got you doing. I ain’t got anything but a desire to work and help people.”
I saw the truth in that. He made my day.
As for the ten dollars, Brian said, “I’ll either get me a meal or some cigarettes.”