Vendor of the Week
Global Vendor: Zbyszek Machaj
His bright blue eyes are perhaps his secret weapon, but Zbyszek Machaj, who is 59 years old, has more tricks up his sleeve. His honest and friendly sales approach makes him one of the most likable street paper vendors in the Polish city of Pozna?.
Machaj has been with Pozna?‘s street paper, Gazeta Uliczna since 2005. He heard about the newspaper from one of the vendors.
“Unlike most of the vendors, I’ve never been homeless or felt socially deprived. I just felt a lack of fulfillment in my life,” he said. “There are few opportunities for a steady income. I did some odd jobs like distributing leaflets and collecting aluminum cans. I hoped that becoming a Gazeta Uliczna vendor would change my financial health and it did.”
Machaj said more than money, the job has given him a chance to appreciate his life and the realization that he can do something good for others and himself at the same time.
At the moment his goal is to move to a new public housing apartment, which is currently under renovation. It’s the first step to his dream of having a house with a garden, “preferably on the lake where I would spend my days on a boat with my fishermen friends.”
He is friendly with other vendors,
although he has yet to find someone who will play chess with him.
“It’s also hard to find the fourth player for bridge. But, I don’t let it upset me. In my spare time, I go for walks with my dog, Fafilk, who really is a trusted friend.”
People don’t understand the purpose of me selling the magazine, Machaj said.
“The public’s awareness of social justice in Pozna? is still very low. I try to explain that part of the money they pay for the magazine goes to me and helps me to lead a dignified life. If someone buys Gazeta Uliczna once, takes the time to actually read it and becomes a fan or frequent buyer, then I am very happy. The majority of buyers are young and middle-aged people, who recognize me in the street and call to me, ‘Hello, Zbyszek, have you got the latest issue yet?’”
Selling Gazeta Uliczna has enriched his life and given him a reason to be positive. Among the vendors and his customers, Machaj said he’s found his place in society.
“It makes me happy and it makes me feel like a valuable person who, like ‘my’ magazine, has a history—a history of change for the better.”
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