15 December 2016
I GREW UP here in Canberra, but I’ve lived in Yass for eight years — me, Mum and Dad. It’s a typical country town where everyone knows everybody else.
I managed to get to the end of Year 10 after taking time off here and there because of my health. I got behind in everything, but maths and science were my favourite subjects, and I didn’t mind playing sport.
I have Crohn’s disease and endocarditis. Pretty much nasty — symptoms include loss of weight, loss of appetite, ulcers, abscesses. I have to take medication for it and every now and then I have to have more of my bowel removed. The second time it took me a lot longer to recover.
I spent quite a few years working as a barman at nightclubs around Civic. I’ve been a trolley collector, I’ve been a newspaper deliverer. Had a few jobs, but this one’s the best. Just the fact that if I don’t want to work I don’t have to, and I meet a lot of awesome people.
I started in 2006 and sold for about four years, before I had an operation and wasn’t well enough to work. I started back because I got sick of sitting at home doing nothing.
I come in from Yass on the bus, and it takes about an hour, so I read a book. I love my reading — sci-fi, fantasy, pretty much anything. I love music too; there’s not a lot of the old songs that I don’t know, even the music from before my time.
The Canberra winter is okay if you’re wearing enough layers, and I’m always here at Canberra Centre on Mondays and Wednesday to Friday. I get my magazines from The Body Shop upstairs awesome staff, very nice people.
Most of my customers are shoppers or shop workers, all ages, all races. I try to help people with directions, but with everything that’s changing here it’s getting harder! I used to able to give people directions to anywhere or any shop.
I have a few regulars that pop by and buy, stop and
have a chat and see how I’m going. I’ve had people
bring me coffees, drinks, food, even a pair of gloves
and an umbrella!
Back home I visit friends, play the computer, go to
the Yass Soldiers Club.
I sort of take each day as it comes, because everything can change in an instant. I plan on doing this for as long as I can, because I actually enjoy doing it. Maybe one day I’ll get a ‘proper’ job, when I’m well enough. I’m pretty good with computers, so an IT job would be good.
I want to thank the people who buy the magazine, because they keep me in a job and help me out with money for things. I’d rather be out here working than sitting on my bum doing nothing!
This article was first published in Ed#519 of The Big Issue.
Interview by Peter Ascot
Dennis sells The Big Issue at Canberra Centre in Civic, ACT.