First impressions can be deceiving. No one knows that better than Chris Eller. Eller has been a Real Change vendor since October 2015. Before he became a vendor, his most passionate endeavor was being the lead singer in a rock band.
When Eller talks about music, it’s hard not to get enthralled. From Pearl Jam to Alice in Chains, he is clearly passionate about rock. He can talk about music for hours. Not only does he have a solid singing voice, he also has musical chops on the bass. “I’m no Jimi Hendrix, though,” Eller said with a slight chuckle. Eller loved the feeling of being on stage and getting people together.
Music is just one of many of Eller’s passions. If you strike up a familiar topic, he can talk for even more hours. Topics include U.S. history, the Iliad and the Odyssey, the video store he used to work at and all the movies he got to see while working there, all the tattoos on his body — even the Vancouver Canucks. Eller sees that everything has a story to be told and everything has a past.
Passion is behind everything Eller does. Even when he has had a rough day selling the paper, he never loses his spark. When asked about his customers, he said, “They are some of the nicest, kindest, most generous and coolest people.” While Eller doesn’t have a typical selling post, he loves working at grocery stores and being able to interact with customers. “I’ll see people who are going into the store and you can tell they aren’t having the best day, and I just smile and say ‘hi’ and you can see a change in them,” Eller said. Having a positive effect on people is something he loves.
While Eller has been selling Real Change on and off for the past four years, he does have dreams of things beyond Real Change. “I want to become a pilot, so I need to go to flight school,” Eller said. He hasn’t figured out all the logistics yet but has been mulling it over for a couple of years. “Getting to travel and have a career combined would be awesome,” Eller said. Eller didn’t go to college because he didn’t know what he wanted to do originally and didn’t want to come out with debt and have a job he hated. Traveling is his passion and he can’t wait to be a pilot one day.
While Eller has been struggling with homelessness on and off for over the past four years, he has been lucky enough to be able to crash at people’s houses. “People have it worse than me,” Eller said. Also, because of the current administration, Eller’s benefits got cut because he is able-bodied. Yet, he always walks into the office with a big smile on his face. When asked if he could give advice to anyone thinking about selling the paper, he said, “Persistence and stay positive. Attitude is everything, no matter what you’re doing.”
Chris is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles. Read the full April 24 - 30 issue.
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