Ray Sutton took a break from selling Real Change this past year.
“I had a job for a little while, but the place I was working, they decided to sell the company. I got laid off. It was $13.50 an hour, only six hours a day, but I liked it. Good people and everybody was nice, and I was just washing dishes and listening to stand-up comedy on the radio. And they said they never had anybody there that listened to stand-up comedy, so people would walk by where I’m sitting on my station and they’d listen to a couple of jokes and laugh. Laughter is the best medicine.”
He still likes selling papers.
“It’s steady, but the place I’m at now, there’s other homeless people flying a sign, and I feel like we’re pressuring them [the customers] too much.”
Ray used to make a point of asking people questions about issues that were in the paper, such as, “Does America have a dubious grip on freedom?” or “Can food be innovative?”
“I still ask the questions; not as much, though. People walk by and I try to not ask them twice.”
He liked what another vendor has said about selling Real Change: “The papers sell themselves.”
“Some days I just won’t say anything, I’ll just smile at the people. There’s one lady, she says, ‘I like you ’cause you’re quiet.’”
Ray grew up in Oklahoma and on the Yakama Indian Reservation. He’s a member of that tribe. He moved to Seattle because it’s a beautiful place, he says. He started selling Real Change when he fell in love with a vendor. They’re still together.
Ray and his partner had to move recently.
“We had a little room. The guy who was renting it to us didn’t have it up to code, so we had to move out. Something to do with the fuse box in the wrong spot. The city found out, and he had to tear the whole thing down.”
Now they’re staying with friends in Burien.
“With the rent as it is now, we’ll probably have to stay somewhere out of town.”
Not having a paycheck anymore, Ray’s pawned the guitar he’d been playing regularly at an open mic in Greenwood. He was learning to play the harmonica, but that got stolen, along with his backpack.
“It didn’t bother me,” he says. “Everything’s replaceable, except people. Materialism doesn’t bring happiness.”
His partner got mad, but he told her, “‘They needed it more than me. I forgive them.’ I did have some unique stuff in there, some cool things.” Another thing he lost is the sketchbook where he made drawings. “I got me a little notebook to start drawing again.”
Ray is looking for a way to sell some of those drawings. “I have a pretty cool logo for the Seahawks, tribal-looking design.”
In the meantime, “I love that Real Change is here. As long as I can go out and do the work, it will always be here.”
Ray is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous Vendor Profiles.
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