Buying A Street Newspaper, Kindly

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, January 30, 2014

newspaper vendor Lucy Dickens

newspaper vendor
Lucy Dickens

Buying A Street Newspaper, Kindly

It has been cold in the past number of days. And I mean, freezing cold. As in polar-vortex-cold. Too cold for people to safely stand outside for more than a minute or two.

At a grocery store not too far from my apartment, a street newspaper vendor has his territory marked out. Recently, the grocery store has been kind enough to allow him to stand just inside the outside doors, out of the bitter cold. (Immediately adjacent to where the shopping carts live.) Some kind of warmth comes from the inside of the store. It’s not quite toasty warm, since there aren’t any direct heat vents or other heat sources on the floor-to-ceiling window walls. But as I mentioned before, at least it’s not as freezing as being outside.

Occasionally, I go to this grocery store to do a little shopping. Maybe once a week. And as often as not, I see the same street newspaper vendor there by the entrance/exit. I sometimes buy a street newspaper from him. I’m not sure whether everyone knows just what these street newspapers and the vendors who sell them are doing out on the street. This particular street newspaper is “StreetWise.” As the inside cover proclaims, “StreetWise is published weekly and is sold by the poor and homeless of Chicago.” The vendors buy the newspaper at cost and sell it at a nominal mark-up. Then, they are able to keep the profit for themselves. It’s a way for people “facing homelessness to achieve personal dignity,” as the StreetWise mission statement says.

I’m a generally friendly, cheerful person. When I see this vendor, I sometimes speak to him. When I get the opportunity, even though I often pass by him at some distance, I try to smile and nod. Give him some sort of friendly acknowledgement, since many people will not even make eye contact with him. I’ve never asked him, but I think he has noticed. And I suspect he appreciates it. He certainly seems to perk up when I see him, even though I don’t always buy a newspaper from him.

But tonight, I did. I bought a newspaper on the way out of the store. The time was a little later than I usually had seen him, but he was still there. Since I had a little extra money, I bought one. I acted in a kindly way. I wished him a good evening, told him I hoped he would be able to stay warm, and gave him one of my smiles, too. (I do have a cheerful smile.) I am glad he is showing initiative and gumption, and get-up-and-go, too.

I hope he has a warm, safe place to sleep tonight. Even though the weather is warmer than it was a few days ago, it’s still winter! And it’s still well below freezing. Dear God, I pray for this gentleman. Bless him. Nourish him physically as well as spiritually. Help him in the daily routine of selling this newspaper. Prosper him, and I pray that he might stay in good health. God, in Your mercy, hear my prayers.