Beginning about 8 a.m. every Wednesday morning, the day the new edition arrives, about 20 vendors corral into a hallway a little wider than a refrigerator, and grumble until the red light lights up on the coffee machine. Sometime between 9 and 10, a clumsy-looking little diesel truck pulls up in front of the building, and a human chain forms from front desk to front door to truck and back again. People sighing under the weight of stacked newspapers, people haggling over the price, inevitably someone stays in the bathroom too long, and like an old crank siren, the office begins to emit a dull roar and keeps it up until noon.
Linda Bear sits quiet through it all on a folding chair by the water cooler with something on her face you might think of as a smile. You could be right, I'm not really sure.
Linda was born in Pocatello, Idaho, and came to Seattle in 1988. Soon after her arrival, Bear started working at Seattle's Lighthouse for the Blind, where she sewed Kevlar vests, assembled airplane electronics, and packaged clothes and silverware. Think about knowing every fold and detail and particular of a piece of copper wiring or a length of wool or a fork: Linda Bear inhabits a world most of us don't even know exists.
But about 15 years ago the Lighthouse for the Blind cut back and Linda found herself without a job. So on June 13, 1995 (how she remembered the date is beyond me), Linda Bear went through new vendor orientation at Real Change. She's been selling since then.
"Be generous to people who need support," she says. You can find her around Queen Anne and downtown.