Let me begin by saying that if you don't like Larry Brinegar, this week's Vendor of the Week, chances are that you're in some karmic dire straits. Brinegar takes life with a nod and a "How ya doing?" He's the kind of guy who bums you his last cigarette, the kind of guy who listens more than he talks.
Born in Plymouth, Michigan, Brinegar has also lived in Fargo, North Dakota and on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota.
"[The reservation] was a trip... People used to call me 'Custer!'" Brinegar remembers with a laugh. He and his then-girlfriend lived in South Dakota for six years, until Seattle drew them out west in 1998.
In 2002, Brinegar was introduced to Real Change by vendor Roger Secourt. And he was surprised to find the job came pretty naturally.
"I used to be an introvert, but now I'm an extrovert," he says. "I love meeting people." And for a while, things were going grand for Larry Brinegar: he had a steady job and steady housing.... Then, in August of last year it just kind of happened.
Sometimes, people become homeless because they get sick; sometimes, they become homeless because they get laid off; and sometimes, people become homeless because their landlords don't like them-- such a case is Larry Brinegar's.
Brinegar had cockroaches in his last apartment, and he let his landlady know about it. "She said, 'Are you saying that's my fault?' And it was all downhill from there," recalls Brinegar. Within a few months, Brinegar found the eviction notice on his door.
Rotten luck. But he still manages to smile, to take it easy, and to be thankful.
Brinegar, who sells at Fourth and Pike, says, "I want to tell my customers that their support and kindness have meant more than they can possibly know."