It was a sunless and sterile day in July and I was on the corner of Union and 2nd thinking about the questions I was going to ask Gary Kaufman. About 15 minutes earlier, I'd realized that this day in July in Seattle was like a day in mid-March anywhere else in the country, only it was a day that lasted for nine months of the year. For a second I believed that Seattle was Newark in late March forever.
It was a strange day and my interview questions turned out kind of stupid: 1) Is Gary Kaufman related to Andy Kaufman?; 2) What kind of name is "Kaufman?;" and, 3) What is the secret to Gary Kaufman's success?
Luckily, Kaufman is a nice guy. He handles bad interviews with patience and a half-grin.
Gary Kaufman is not related to Andy Kaufman; Kaufman is a German name; Kaufman, this week's vendor of the week, doesn't know the secret to his success.
"I pretty much just stand there, smile, and hold up the paper," he says. "I think this is pretty much just a streak of good luck."
Though a native of Bremerton, Kaufman came to Seattle via Glendale, California, where he's spent most of his life working in the restaurant industry. Kaufman returned to Seattle in order to be closer to his family, but became homeless after his arrival.
Luckily enough for him (and Real Change), Kaufman was introduced to the paper by a friend. Nowadays, you can find him selling papers across from the Seattle Library's Central branch.
Kaufman's earning a pretty decent income-- enough, in fact, to feed himself and his wife of four years. But Kaufman doesn't mind that he's also working toward spreading awareness of political and social issues facing Seattle's homeless:
"Spread the word!" he tells his customers.
Who's the special person who offers you Real Change? Nominate them for Vendor of the Week: [email protected]