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24 May 2017

Erik

Photograph by James Braund

I’m originally from Alice, born and raised. I’ve got good memories of going out bush in Alice. It’s got dry sandy creek-beds full of beautiful sand, there’s dust and prickles everywhere, and boulders made from quartz… If you go to Alice it’s always worth going out bush.

I never liked school very much, I didn’t do the best. For years it made me angry but I feel now I have done my best to rise above it. There are people in Alice who I miss but I didn’t have a great time growing up there, even after high school. I had days where I didn’t get life, you know?

I had some jobs that got me by and supported me. The longest job I ever had worth talking about was at a nursery. I would sort rows of plants. I’ve also done data entry – I had a good wage from that and I saved a lot of money. I was barely out of high school then. I also started doing volunteer work. And I did soil sampling.

I’ve been selling The Big Issue for nearly two years. It’s been my saviour. The income I’ve made from selling it has made an improvement to my life. It makes me get up in the morning every day of the week. It’s the only job I really love. What I love about it is the 12 regulars who buy the magazine from me and the fact it gets me money to get through the day. My interactions with my regular customers make me feel really great. One of my regulars is so nice he was about to go and have coffee with me, but I said I had to come here and do this interview. I’ll catch up with him another time. I don’t have a lot of friends so it’s good. It helps me get by. I wish I had started selling The Big Issue quite a while ago.

I have lived in Melbourne on the bushy outer-northern fringes for a long time and now the Mornington Peninsula. My girlfriend Jo and I are still together despite our problems. We’ve been together for six years and live by the beach. We have a ginger cat called Max. He’s very cute.

I’m trying to save up for a new car. And for me and Jo to get married. I have other plans apart from selling The Big Issue. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time is to run my own gardening business. And I love playing the guitar. I’m not like Slash but I wish I were playing in a band. I play basketball. I’ve got a Special Olympics tournament coming up real soon and I’m looking forward to that. I play footy but haven’t for a long time. I barrack for Geelong.

Selling The Big Issue is really good. It’s a decent income and it’s during a time of my life where I feel down and insecure. I’ve always got a happy face on at my pitch.

This article first appeared in Ed#526 of The Big Issue.

Interview by Anastasia Safioleas
Erik sells The Big Issue on the corner of King and Bourke sts, Melbourne.