Robert Qualls

By: Dave Hamilton July 19, 2016

What brought you to StreetWise?
A friend of mine was selling StreetWise and he had money. He told me he sold StreetWise magazines. I asked him, “Can I join?” and he said, “Sure.” I didn’t take it seriously at first, but it did the job. It was helping me supplement some bills and my habits. I had drinking problems and so forth (back in the 90s). In 2006 I started taking it seriously and I’ve been doing well ever since. I’m no longer addicted to drugs and alcohol. I have classes. I have teachers. StreetWise has provided all that through meeting nice people and stuff like that - vacations and I’m living like a human being, now.

Where do you sell StreetWise?
Lakeview on Southport Street by Wrigleyville, by the Brown line. Roscoe!

Do you have any type of special relationship with that neighborhood?
I recently just moved from there. I’ve lived there since ‘09, on Roscoe and Seminary. It ate up my whole disability check, but StreetWise supplemented my income because I sold really well and I took it seriously. Today I got a cellphone and I met some nice people in the community. They have fundraisers. They’ve given me dentures and I’m smiling now, more than ever. As you can see I am happy with my new dentures that came in 2011. Ever since then it’s been good, you know. The economy went down some, but my customers stuck with me and they keep me afloat. I just moved to Evanston, to a senior development apartment home for people over 55 with disabilities through HUD.

What do you think of this new place in Evanston? Are you saving money by living there?
Well, I haven’t been there too long, so I haven’t really seen the savings, yet! The rent is tremendously cheaper. I pay my own utilities, which is part of the agreement to rent because there’s no gas stove, so everything is electric. I got cable TV, I got a few luxuries and I’m trying to furnish my place now because I have four rooms instead of one. So, I have my own bedroom. I’m getting used to the commute. It’s, like, 25 minutes from the Purple to the Brown and then Brown line to my spot on Southport. I’m getting used to waking up at 5 and leaving the house at 6:30 or 7 to come to my spot from 7:30 to 12. I only work for 5 hours. I set that up so my customers and the community can respect me as I work.

What things have you gotten?
Just a couch and a loveseat. I had dishes from my old apartment and I just bought a new bed from Mattress Firm. That’s about it. It’s basically empty. I got a TV and the couch and loveseat so I’m not sitting in chairs and eating. But I don’t have dressers and the basic stuff to fill the apartment. I have a little four-chair table and have a little sit down area to eat. I like it. I know it’s going to take time.

What do you think about the Cubs this year?
Awesome, I think that every year. I don’t want to jinx them, but I’m a die-hard. All the young players that come through the system are really good and they don’t believe in jinxes because they’re young and they're ambitious and they want to win.

Is there anything that you want to say to the readers?
I want to tell them that I appreciate all the loyalty and thank them. I enjoyed my eight years living there. I’m sad that I don’t live in the area, but I’m happy that I’m still coming there daily to say hi to all my friends. Just because I moved away doesn’t mean I’m gone away. I come there every day and it’s a real job. I get up and commute like everyone else.