“I started selling [Slovenia’s street paper] Kralji Ulice after I lost my job as a tobacconist in my early 50s. It was still a long way away to my retirement, and I had trouble finding myself another job at my age.”
Like many street paper vendors, unemployment had driven 57-year old Marjan to the edge. When starting out as a vendor, Marjan was not homeless in the literal sense of the word. But due to serious issues with alcoholism, he spent a lot of time on the streets. He suffered from delirium tremens and had to spend six months in a hospital to recover.
The main thing he likes about selling the street paper is that it prevents him from getting into trouble again.
“Selling Kralji Ulice [which means “Kings of the Street”] solved a lot of my problems, and it helps to keep me sober. Now I’ve been sober for 16 years and am a regular member of the Club for Recovering Alcoholics. I also managed to quit smoking.”
“For me, selling the paper means more than just problem solving, though. I enjoy meeting people because I like to communicate.
“But unfortunately, not all experiences are nice. Once, I was selling the paper and a very well-dressed man passed by. I offered him a copy, but he started shouting at me, repeating that I should go work instead of begging. I was really hurt because I was actually working. It is not part of our job to get humiliated and insulted, but it happens.”
However, such difficult times never diminished Marjan’s passion for work. With his tireless efforts, he was eventually able to buy his own studio apartment. He has since retired, but he continues to sell the street paper. Kralji Ulice staff has recognized him as a pioneer, and Marjan is now a mentor for new vendors.
“I’m retired now but I still sell the paper because I enjoy being in touch with other people and being an advisor to newcomers. I hope that my health serves me well in the future. That is my only wish now.”