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22 March 2019


Vendor Rodney

I am Queensland-born and bred. I am the youngest of six kids. Dad passed away when Mum was pregnant with me, so she brought us all up on her own. Legacy was a great support to our family. I remember every Saturday, Mum would bundle us all up onto three different buses to get to the Legacy place and we would play and learn stuff all day.

I fell behind in my schooling when I was pretty young, so they sent me to an opportunity school. It was great, lots of hands-on learning like woodwork; we even made a two-man boat. Turns out I needed glasses – I couldn’t see, that is why I fell behind in my schooling. I have some great memories of my school days and I stayed there until Year 9.

When I was about nine, Mum had a stroke and I had to go into a home for nearly a year while Mum recuperated. I hated it. They treated us really bad. I was also teased and bullied by the other kids in the home for going to an opportunity school. 

Mum died about 12 years ago from a massive stroke. I really miss her, she was my rock. I lived with her until I left home to get married when I was 32. Mum and I went on lots of driving trips to Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania. I have lost contact with most of my family over the years.

I lived in Kyogle, NSW, for about 20 years. I got some work locally and helped out the in-laws on their farm. Unfortunately, the marriage ended, so I came back to Brisbane. 

I drove taxis on and off for about 40 years. I had to stop driving due to a medical condition. I was working really long hours and started getting migraines and blacking out. I could not risk having an accident. I got held up at gunpoint once, I took six months off after that.

I have lived through a few major bouts of depression – they hung around for quite a while, but I have always come out the other side.

Joining The Big Issue is the best thing I ever did. I love having chats with people and I have built up some regular customers. I was staying at a hostel and one of the other blokes brought me in. I am so glad he did.

Photo by Barry Street

Interview by Susie Longman
Rodney sells The Big Issue on Adelaide St, Brisbane.