Bradley Dean Noller calls himself a solitary man. But even that’s not quite true — he enjoys teasing vendor staff and shows up, without fail, every Wednesday morning for the weekly hustle and bustle of Real Change’s busiest time: when the new issue arrives.
Yes, Bradley does stand out, even if he tries not to — no one can miss the large white beard that fans out beneath his chin, his contrasting bald head and shiny silver glasses. Couple that with his tendency to joke around and be playful, and you have the moderately social Bradley.
He consistently runs for vendor representative, a leadership role in the program, and has served before as an alternate for the position. “It’s something I wanted to do,” he said. “To find out for myself how good I am at the policies and if I’ve paid attention. It lets me be more aware of how things operate.”
Bradley was born in Concordia, Kansas, in 1964. “I did not have much of a family; basically everyone did their own thing. I was mainly in Mankato, Kansas, and attended school from kindergarten until the third grade.”
“I was a pain in the butt when I was a kid. Apparently enough-so that it caused the state of Kansas to take me from my dad. But it taught me to rely on myself, also to be distrustful of certain authority figures.”
Books have been his source of comfort and refuge. “I can read at the college-level. I’ve always enjoyed reading. I like to be by myself a lot and reading helps me do that.” One of his favorites is the comic “Spider-Man.” Although he adds, “I also like lots of murder mysteries involving cooking. There’s like six or more series I can think of offhand that involve cooking and particular recipes.”
Before Real Change came into the picture, Bradley worked at carnivals. “I put rides together, took them apart; ran them. I would like to get back to doing that again. I remember the Enterprise, the Minor-Mike, the Sizzler. The Ring of Fire — you could not have any food or drink in you, otherwise it’s a guarantee you will barf. The ride I hated the most was the Gravitron. You spin in a circle, then, it takes you up feet-first. But I rode all of them. This was when I was in my early 40s and living in Minnesota.”
Good with animals, he has fond memories of taking care of the carnival owner’s three dogs, a cat and mini-goats, because he “was one of the few they would go to, other than the owner.” Growing up Bradley had a silver poodle, but he doesn’t consider himself either a dog- or cat- person, just an animal lover.
After working four to five years with county fairs, he switched to temporary service jobs involving heavy labor. “It was for the pay,” he said. He traversed Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Minnesota. The ocean, he claims, drew him to Seattle. “I was tired of the Minnesota weather and wanted to be away from family.”
His living situation hasn’t been prime: “Me and housing go as well together as the health department and their toilets. The way housing is set up is frustrating for a lot of people, it allows for no patience whatsoever, cause it just takes too long. I don’t want to wait. I don’t mind getting housing, but I don’t want to go through hoops and hoops and hoops just to get it. I’m just not going to.”
He’s been in Seattle since 2010 and started selling Real Change after developing a relationship with another vendor. “She would let me have a free paper on a weekly basis, and she encouraged me to come down and try it out. I’ve been selling ever since. I started in 2011. I don’t hardly sell that many papers, and I’d like to sell more, but I’m just not that talkative. I let the paper sell itself, and if that’s not good enough, I move on.”
When asked if he’s harboring any touristy dreams about Seattle, he said he would still “like to go to the zoo, the aquarium and the eighth floor of Starbucks headquarters.” Maybe if a few more customers turn his way, Bradley will finally be able to check these off his bucket-list. He sells around Fourth and Seneca streets, and sometimes Fourth and Columbia, in the morning and early afternoon.