The Big Issue : Edition 539
THE BIG ISSUE 16 – 29 JUNE 2017 5 VENDOR PROFILE I’VE BEEN SELLING The Big Issue almost since day one, and was one of the first vendors signed up in Queensland. I’ve been told I’m the longest- serving vendor in Queensland, I think that’s why they asked me to do this interview for the 21st birthday edition. Why stop there though? Why not make me the manager? Or the CEO? I’ve been here for long enough! I should probably start at the start, though. I was born in Brisbane, and have lived here my entire life. My childhood was pretty normal. I grew up with a mother and father, and two brothers. But it’s just me and my younger brother left now. I still see him pretty often, he comes around to visit quite a bit. What’s that phrase, a jack-of-all-trades, master of none? That was me, I did a bit of everything. I was a storeman, I worked at the brewery, in a meatworks, in a hospital. I worked on the trains, as a telegram deliveryman, at a margarine factory and even at Festival Hall. A lot of my life was hard work. I didn’t mind working, I always worked hard, until I got run over by a car. That was 30-odd years ago. I don’t remember anything about the accident. I was apparently crossing a road and got hit at full speed. I was unconscious for a couple of weeks, in hospital for about a year. I had two broken arms, two broken legs, a broken jaw, a few broken ribs, a punctured lung... The worst part was I couldn’t even complain because my jaw was wired shut! I had to learn how to walk again, but I still have trouble, I’m still in pain. After that I didn’t go to work until I found The Big Issue. I found out about it by accident, really – I was walking past the office, saw their sign in the window, and wondered what it was all about. I needed something to do, and it didn’t sound too bad. I’ve been selling the magazine ever since. Now that I think of it, this is the longest job I’ve ever had in my life. I feel proud to be one of the longest-serving vendors; it’s an achievement. My first day was selling right here at the university – that much hasn’t changed. I’ve met a lot of nice people, and it feels good to know they’re there to look out for me, especially when I’ve been sick. Some of the staff get in touch with the office if I haven’t been in for a few days, to check up and see if I’m okay. They really look after me, and I thank them for that. It makes me feel like I’m part of a community here. I’ve been struggling the last couple of years with my health, going in and out of hospital with emphysema. Now I find it hard to do things I used to, sometimes I just don’t have the breath and can’t get up. Don’t get me wrong, I can still do The Big Issue, no problem. It helps clear my mind, lets me find my peace. It gives me something to get up for in the morning, you know? I feel good at the end of the day if I’ve sold a few magazines and talked to a few people. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something for the day. If I had a piece of advice for anyone it would be to never give up, remember that you can do it. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll get there. interview by Kurt Maroske photograph by Jacob Pedersen TOM SELLS THE BIG ISSUE AT QUT GARDENS POINT CAMPUS, BRISBANE.