9 February 2015

Steve B, Geelong

Photograph by James Braund

"G’day, I’m Steve. Nice to meet you! I’m 40 – have lived in Geelong for 27 years. I was born here, but at three my parents divorced and I moved to Townsville for 10 years. I do have autism, and used to go to a special school there. I had a poor memory and used to get teased. Every time I misbehaved I was sent to the principal’s and got the cane. I didn’t want to move back to Geelong, but had no choice because of family. But here I am, and I’m really happy.

I went to a Geelong special school for five or six years, and travelled a bit with them: to Tasmania in 1990, and Uluru in 1991. Then I went to ‘The Annexe’, a special school for over-18s, for two years. It was near the Barwon River, but there was a big flood back in 1995, which caused it to get torn down. In my second year I did the best trip of my life: America for two weeks. That was awesome.

After I left The Annexe I was looking for jobs. I met Shane [‘Vendor Profile’ Ed#358] when he sold The Big Issue outside Westfield, and that’s what got me interested in selling it. Shane is more than a great guy; he’s awesome. In 2012 I had a month’s trial. In the first week I was very nervous, but I’ve stuck with it every single Tuesday, and have not had one sickie.

Tuesday mornings I sell outside Westpac, and Tuesday afternoons at Market Square. I get regular customers – they really like me, and stop to chat. It’s not just the sales, I like to talk to them about The Big Issue and what it does for us vendors in Geelong.

I spend every weekend with my lovely fiancée, Sherrie. I met her at the Geelong special school and it was love at first sight. We’ve been together for 22 years, and we have been happily engaged for 12. We are a perfect couple together.

I live in a two-bedroom house by myself, and I’m very proud of it. I’ve got perfect neighbours and two lovely carers. Mark takes Sherrie and me out every Friday, and Jan comes every Thursday to cook a meal and clean my house. She is lovely. I also spend time with my lovely parents: my mum and my stepfather, Rod. I have a very close relationship with my parents, who are always there for me and help me out a lot. I’d like to say a special thank you to them, for supporting me to live by myself.

I like listening to music – my favourite band is Pink Floyd, and I also like INXS and Guns N’ Roses. But my dream is to save up for a holiday overseas and travel. I’d like to go to America again, to Europe and also England, to London. Ha ha… Maybe I could give The Big Issue a go there! "

This interview first appeared in Ed#473


Interview by Peter Ascot
Steve sells The Big Issue at the corner of Malop and Moorabool Streets, Geelong.