For 17 days, Steve Schmidt had lain in a coma. The stabbing that brought Schmidt to the hospital had nearly taken his life, and with every day that passed it looked more and more doubtful he would ever wake up. In fact, as the priest prayed at Schmidt's side, the last thing he was expecting was for the man's eyes to flutter and open.
And when that happened, the priest let fall the Bible clutched in his hand.
"So the priest says to me," Schmidt remembered with a grin, "'In 20 years, I haven't dropped this Bible once.'"
In as much as Schmidt's survival was a miracle, it came with a cost. Schmidt had been a new arrival to Seattle when he was stabbed. When he was discharged from the hospital, he found himself broke and jobless at a Green Lake hotel. Even though Schmidt has owned his own roofing company and is a skilled carpenter, every month he still found himself just scraping by. Schmidt had become one of the thousands of Seattle's homeless whose only mistake was that they got sick.
Luckily for Schmidt, he's a workhorse.
"A person can't live on [medical disability assistance] and food stamps. It's impossible," says Schmidt. So for the past six years, Schmidt has been selling Real Change. These days you can find him in front of the Bartell's in Wallingford.
"If I don't have papers in my backpack, I just don't feel right... I'm addicted," says Schmidt.
Schmidt and I spent about an hour talking, with topics touching on Norm Dicks, Paul Allen, traffic in Seattle, and cow towns in Colorado. Probably too much to cover in 300 words; so I might as well end with what Schmidt told me when I asked him what he'd tell his customers: "Help each other out; what goes around comes around."
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