Vendor of the Week
Vendor Profile - Nick Reyes
Nick Reyes was a merchant marine, a freelance photographer, a warehouse worker and a salesperson before he sold Real Change. “I’m good at selling things. I’m ambitious. I go with the flow and the enthusiasm.” But, he says, “The bottom line is that I had an addiction, and I woke up and realized that I’m getting too old for the crap. I have a few flags that I have to eliminate. The party’s over for me. I was an alcoholic. Now I’m clean and sober.”
Nick grew up in the Bronx. He did a lot of DJ-ing when hip-hop began. As time went on, he started taking pictures of the scene. He loved being a photographer. He also took pictures of salsa and jazz musicians such as Tito Puente and Miles Davis; he particularly knew the salsa musicians because his parents were Afro-Honduran, and the music was all around him.
Nick’s father was also a merchant marine. “He got me on board. I worked as a mess man and from there I went into the engine room.”
But Nick was haunted by the murder of his mother when he was a child. “I was 12. Ain’t that something? I went with her shopping, and she bought my brother and I a pair of Wranglers jeans and she gave me
75 cents to go and see Bruce Lee.” The lady was rushing her, and they left. They found her two days later in the woods. “I don’t know what the hell happened.”
Out at sea, the memories affected him. “I had an affair with this lady, and I was getting flashbacks from what had happened to my mother. My mother was always alone. My father was always on board ship. I decided to get a land job.”
Nick found work and successfully stopped drinking for 15 years. “I got experience with the fork lift, the cherry picker, shipping and receiving, quality control, ordering, load and unload. I met a lady. We were together for 12 years and after I left, I started hanging out with fellows from the job and then I opened up that Coors Lite and that was it — after 15 years I relapsed.”
Nick’s been sober for 10 months. He’s been selling Real Change at the Red Apple since just after Christmas. He likes the customers. “They’re down to earth, low key, sociable. You have some comedians. I’ve fitted in.
“The future is I want to get me a nice camera. I started school in June [at Path with Art], Digital Photography Field Class. September they got me going for another class.”
Nick is still homeless. “I’m in TLP [Transitional Living Program] right now at the Salvation Army downtown. I have a case manager, and I go to my CD meetings twice a week just to keep my head clear.”
He still thinks about his mother. “I know her spirit is strong and she watches over us. I can’t complain. Things are working out for me.”
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