Advice To Contributor Patrons

On behalf of all The Contributor vendors, I want to thank you for your support. You have helped many homeless people make the nearly impossible leap from homelessness to homed in a relatively short period of time. Every time you buy a paper, the homeless vendor believes a little bit more in himself, and in his chances of returning to mainstream society.

To make the relationship between vendor and customer as successful and beneficial as possible, I’d like to share a couple thoughts.

Before a homeless person is allowed to be a vendor, he/she attends a mandatory training session where they are taught their rights and responsibilities as vendors. You can read a partial list of rules each vendor must follow at The Contributor website – Vendor Rules.

Each vendor understands, having been homeless for some period of time, that many in the general public are leery of homeless people, and some are outright prejudiced against them. For this reason, The Contributor vendors are extra cautious to not offend anyone, or to do anything that might be construed as improper. Their ability to earn money depends on it. Even so, the police are constantly being called to check on vendors, even though the vendor has done nothing wrong. Your fellow citizens have been known to call the police at the mere site of a homeless person. Sure, it’s unfair, but that is the reality vendors are facing.

As supporters of the paper, there are some things you can do to help reduce the chances of any appearance of impropriety concerning the vendors. Regardless of who does what regarding the sale of the paper, the homeless vendor will be blamed for it. So, first and foremost, obey ALL traffic laws. If buying a paper puts you in a position of breaking the rules of the road, then don’t do it. Yes, vendors will be blamed for the driver’s actions. Wait for a more opportune time, or find an alternative way of reaching the vendor. By law, vendors are not allowed to step into the street, even when the traffic is stopped for a red light. Avoid putting the vendor in jeopardy of getting a ticket for walking into the street. You can do that by pulling up to the curb to buy the paper. And, if you are up to the curb, but your light has turned green, don’t hold up traffic to complete the transaction, follow the flow of traffic. The guy behind may be honking at you, but he will still blame the vendor for this, albeit small, inconvenience. There will be other opportunities to buy the paper at another time.

Vendor’s not only have to obey the laws of the city, they must also obey all the rules set forth by The Contributor, or risk losing the privilege of selling the paper. IF AT ANY TIME YOU SUSPECT THAT A VENDOR, OR SOMEONE WHO APPEARS TO BE A VENDOR, IS BEHAVING IN A DISCOURTEOUS MANNER, PLEASE REPORT THEM TO THE CONTRIBUTOR AT 615-829-6829. The Contributor is just as interested in stopping these people as anyone else.

Here are some situations to be aware of: There are some people posing as vendors who are not authorized to sell the paper. They may have done something that caused them to lose the right to sell, or they may have never been accepted as vendors. Be certain to only buy papers from approved vendors.

Now spotting an authorized vendor is easier than ever. The Contributor’s new ID badges are laminated 6 by 8 inches big on bright yellow paper with the vendor’s picture in the center. Also on the badge is the vendor’s name and the phone number to The Contributor. Don’t buy the paper from anyone not displaying that badge. If you see someone selling without the badge, call The Contributor immediately.

Also, be aware that some people are taking other publications that are free to the public, such as those published by local universities, and are trying to sell them, posing as vendors. They are hoping that patrons won’t know the difference. Some people have reported being scammed this way. Know what it is you’re buying, and please report such scams to the police when they happen. These people, as well as panhandlers make the job of selling The Contributor all the more difficult.

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About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless
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