"Keep that smile going now!" he tells passersby.
That's James. Cheerful, kind-hearted and friendly; he's a neighborhood favorite for customers and staff alike at the Fremont PCC.
"He makes everybody's day a little brighter," says Raymond, the store manager. "He does a wonderful job at our store."
It seems like everyone has a thing or two to tell me about James: how they appreciate his smile, his positive attitude, his hard work and caring personality, and want to say so.
As we do our interview, James says hello to nearly every person who walks out of the store, many who he knows by first name. He even knows their dog's names.
It shouldn't come as any surprise. He works nearly 12 hours a day, seven days a week -- long enough to know his customers' clothing styles and quite possibly their eating habits. That takes the kind of discipline you get from four years in the Navy.
As a young man, James was a crewmember on the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft. His job: monitoring radar and sonar to provide air support to F-14 fighter jets. Those were long days, he tells me: "I used to work 12 on, 12 off."
James came to Seattle four years ago from Houston and has sold the paper ever since. "I've had to go the VA hospital [on a weekly basis] for the last three and a half years, so it's hard to keep a job," he says. Day labor wasn't cutting it, so Real Change turned out to be just what he was looking for -- he could choose his own hours and still keep his weekly appointments.
After nearly half a decade, he's still at it, and his friendships with customers and staff are the best part. To his fans and supporters, he says, "Thank you for letting me be a part of your community."