Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

John…. a big smile that wins my heart

with 4 comments

Each week when I am in Perth, I generally catch the bus into the CBD once or twice.  Generally, this is to attend to my duties as a Victim Support Service volunteer.  I get off at the Wellington Street Bus Station, and walk the final five or so minutes to the District Court, where I go about my tasks.  Often, I see the same vendor of “The Big Issue”.  Many of our readers would be familiar with the Big Issue magazine – as described on their webite, they are “one of Australia’s leading social enterprises providing creative solutions to the issue of homelessness.”

The concept is a simple one; a fortnightly magazine is published.  Authorised vendors buy the magazine for $2.50 from The Big Issue and sell it on the streets for $5, keeping the difference, thus providing opportunities for homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people to make  positive changes in their lives.  Since its launch in 1996, The Big Issue vendors in Australia have sold over 6 million magazines, with more than $13.2 million going into the pockets of Australia’s homeless and disadvantaged.

Back to the story;  yesterday I was heading back to the bus station after my rostered duties, and I saw the same man that I have seen many times.  We always smile at each other; his is one of those warm, infectiously beautiful smiles that always comes from a beautiful person.  So anyhow, as I was not in a huge rush, I decided to head over to say g’day, and buy a Big Issue from him.   His fact lit up (as it usually does), and he said that it would be great if I could buy an issue, as he had only sold 9 so far that day (this was mid afternoon).   So I happily obliged.  After our transaction was complete, we chatted for a few minutes.  

“What’s your name?”

“Mar.   What’s yours?”

“John.  I often see you here, don’t I?”

“Indeed you do, John.  And I must say I love to see your smile each and every time!”

“Well, it is good that people can see the happiness inside of me, rather than the sadness.”

“Yes, it is better that way, isn’t it John…”

“yup….” he said, a wee bit wistfully.

Well John, you have touched my heart.  I daresay that life hasn’t always been easy for you…. but your beautiful smile is an inspiration to me.  And I have the hugest amount of respect for you for getting out there and having a go with the Big Issue.  I will certainly be one of your regular customers from here on.  I love the Big Issue’s motto of “Helping People Help Themselves”.   Beautiful.   Just like John’s smile.


Written by Mar(k)

October 8, 2011 at 3:47 pm

4 Responses

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  1. I sometimes buy the Big Issue as well and usually from John at the Wellington St Bus Station! He is a lovely fellow as you say. The magazine is a good read as well as being a useful way of people making a living. I particularly like the photo essays.


    October 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    • isn’t that funny Karena! we both buy from the same vendor! small world, hey??? I agree – the magazine is a good one… for so many reasons!


      October 9, 2011 at 5:29 pm

  2. Hi Mar
    Nice story about John. The Big Issue is a great business model and the Sellers are real characters.
    We buy the Big Issue from a guy on Hay St near Shafto Lane – he is a really quiet friendly bloke who always has time and a kind word for everyone that stops by.

    Kind regards


    January 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    • Thanks for this, Jeremy! I think I know who you mean! Yes, there are so many fabulous Big Issue sellers out there! So glad that you are supporting them, too! cheers – Mar(k)


      January 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm

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