This week it’s six years since I had my first Big Issue badge made in Bristol. I had a different pitch to begin with but then later that year in October I got this one and I’ve been here ever since. It was hard and confusing at first but people recognise me now and say hi in the street.
I was a dental technician in Romania for 30 years but the political situation was very difficult so I came here to be with my son. I enjoyed my job and I’d like to be able to do it again, but I’m 63 now and I don’t think anyone would want to hire me at my age. It was a good job though because I was helping people with their teeth and that made me happy.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
But I enjoy this too and I like my pitch. I have a motto in life – respect people and you’ll get back respect. I like the people in Bristol and I get only respect from them. I get along with everyone.
I had a portrait done recently for a special Big Issue display for Upfest [a street art festival] in the city. I’ve just seen it for the first time right now and I have to say it’s fantastic [see below]. I can’t take my eyes off it! I met the artist, Fetch, beforehand – he did the portrait from a photo and it’s a very good likeness. It’s good that he wanted to show Big Issue vendors to the world.
Now that I’m a salesman instead of a technician it’s really taught me how to get to know strangers
Now that I’m a salesman instead of a technician it’s really taught me how to get to know strangers. The greatest asset has been meeting so many new people. You learn how to deal with people – some want to speak and some don’t – and I’ve learned a lot about human nature through selling the magazine.
I work every day, including weekends. I don’t have a lot of free time but when I get home from my pitch and I’m tired I like to listen to opera to relax. I have cassettes at home, I love The Three Tenors in concert. That and a bit of Bizet.
My son and I live in a shared house of nine people. We’re moving into a new place soon but I’ll still be with my son. I have other children too – another son lives in Romania and my daughter is in Italy – but I haven’t seen them in the six years I’ve been here. We keep in touch by phone but I have grandchildren too and it’s hard. I miss them a lot.
On my pitch… I’m outside the Fox + Feather on Gloucester Road 8am till 5pm daily.
Photo: Sean MalyonGloucester Road, Bishopston, Bristol BS7 8BE