The first time Daniel Anderson signed up to sell Real Change was in 2011. Yet, despite his background in sales, he struggled to get off the ground as a vendor. This time he’s having a different experience: “Real Change was something I knew I could push because of the personality I have, and over the 20 years that I’ve done customer service, it’s something that I thought I could be comfortable doing.”
Since his return in February, Daniel has quickly become a successful vendor, selling Real Change at the Jefferson Square Safeway in West Seattle. Above all, he credits his patient and easy-going demeanor. “I’m just your average, comfortable person that people can come up and talk to,” he said. “Real Change gives me that opportunity to be able to talk to people, get to know people, and that’s what I like doing.”
Daniel moved to Washington in 1998. He grew up in Minnesota working on his family’s grain farm. “I learned work ethic by the time I was 9, 10 years old,” he said. Even during the school year, Daniel was expected to chip in “almost 40 hours a week” doing chores to help out around the farm. And the summer was no different: “I would do summer fallowing, or do rock picking, or help fix the fence, mow our 10-acre yard.” All of the hard work proved invaluable when he got out of high school and landed his first job. “I knew how to self-manage because I learned that growing up at home.”
Over the years, Daniel has found himself working all kinds of jobs. He sold cars for a time and was employed for two years at a granite and marble distributor in Marysville, working in the warehouse and, eventually, the office. But since 2010, he has been in and out of work and, not coincidentally, homeless.
He’s spent time ringing bells for the Salvation Army and even had a full-time welding job and an apartment for five months, which he shared with his girlfriend and their Chihuahua, Bear. But he was laid off and soon found himself back on the street. “When you’re behind two and a half months [on your rent] and there’s no money coming in, it’s hard to fight that.”
For now, Daniel has found a slightly more agreeable, albeit temporary, solution in the form of Nickelsville, the recently embattled homeless encampment located on West Marginal Way Southwest. While far from ideal, the camp offers a safer option than the streets: “You have a place to go put your head; you don’t have to worry about the cops coming and shooing you out. It helps knowing that you can put your things away; you don’t have to drag ‘em with you.”
He’s looking to move out of the camp soon, but even when he does, Daniel insists he’ll keep selling Real Change. The money is nice, but he’s not just doing it for the job: “I want to be able to do it because I enjoy doing it, because for me to stand out there and meet these customers that come in, whether they buy or not, if I can put a smile on their face, that’s what makes the difference for me. That pays more than a dollar.”
Though now, along with those smiles, Daniel will be getting two dollars.