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24 July 2018

Ron

Ron

Ron sells The Big Issue at NAB, Pirie St, and Bupa Dental, Grenfell St, in Adelaide.

I’ve been legally blind since 2002 so I can’t really read The Big Issue. But I go to the breakfast meeting at the beginning of each edition where the boss tells us all about it, so I know what to tell the customers.

I signed up in October last year. A friend who worked at The Big Issue told me to give it a go. We used to work together as charity collectors for Disability Sports SA. I did it for 17 years, but the charity closed down. I would have liked to work in sales and have a better income, but it was very hard to find a good job with little education and poor literacy. I had a lot of experience, but not a lot of confidence.

I started working when I was about 10. I was on a dairy farm. It was a family business, everyone had to put in. We lived in Scone, NSW. I did schooling by air, when I attended that is! I had many absences, I had too much work. There were seven of us, I was in the middle.

At 18 I started at a battery factory in Footscray, Melbourne. I liked it there. I was promoted after a couple of years and became a sales rep. But the factory closed up, and they made a lot of people redundant.

This job can be challenging. You get a lot of different people; sometimes you get abused, but it doesn’t happen very often. You just learn to deal with it, be patient, don’t give up. You need to stay positive, I try to have a bit of fun with it, make jokes, listen to my radio, sing. One customer even gave me a tip to put towards singing lessons!

I like the routine of it, busy mornings and the lunchtime rush. A lot of people stop and chat. I have four regulars who buy every single edition. I’m not getting rich, but I’m trying to put a little bit away to go on holidays for a week or so. Last year we went to Victor Harbor. This year we are hoping to go to Mannum or Wallaroo with the granddaughter.

I’m married and have two kids. I live in a Housing Trust house. My kids are grown up now and have their own lives, their own families. I’ve got a grandson and granddaughter. I enjoy spending time with them. My granddaughter comes and stays with us. I take her to the local park and to the pictures. Sometimes we go shopping together. My grandson is still a baby, only two years old.

Recently I also started going to TAFE. I joined an adult literacy program where, with the help of a magnifier, I learn about maths, English and computers. It’s good fun! I’m glad staff at The Big Issue encouraged me to do it. I thought I was too old, but they told me it’s never too late. The money I make selling the mag helps me pay for it. I will keep selling The Big Issue till you get sick of me!

 

Photo by Nat Rogers

Interview by Alicja Clisby
Adelaide