Liceulice vendor Tomislav Martic: "My work has had such a positive effect on me"

Liceulice Tomislav sits on a bench smiling, wearing his blue and orange Liceulice vest and holding the magazine. He is surrounded by trees and plants, and there is a yellow bus behind him.

Photo by Sara Ristić

By Tomislav Martic

  • Vendor stories
Originally published:
Liceulice street paper, Serbia

In the nine years that he has been selling Liceulice, Tomislav Martic has been chosen as vendor of the month several times. But things weren’t easy for him at the start. Martic credits Living Together, which is run by Liceulice’s partner organisation – the Association for Helping People with Developmental Disabilities, with helping him to overcome the shyness and discomfort he felt when engaging with others. Nowadays he views the organisation as a second home.

I was born in a village in southwest Serbia, near Kopaonik mountain. I finished special high school, which was hard, but the teachers loved me. My sister and I had a wonderful childhood. When our parents died, we sold the flat we were living in and went out in search of a better life. During the 90s, I lived in Gornji Milanovac, where I worked in construction. Construction is really hard work. I hurt myself working in security, and afterwards we came to Belgrade. I worked as a doorkeeper for a trucking company. Now I live with my sister in a flat in the suburbs of Belgrade, paying rent. I have a niece, sister-in-law and a grandson, and we all get along just fine.

We don’t go back to the countryside we come from now that we’ve sold our old flat. I talk to my childhood friend over the phone; he was my neighbour. It was hard for me parting ways with my friends and teachers from elementary and high school. They were all good to me. Coming to Belgrade was also hard for me. My niece found an association online called Living Together, where I can socialize with others, work and do sports.

I play football, basketball and table tennis in the association. Back in school, I was a big fan of PE, but not so much of math. I train regularly. We have our own team: we are called Playing Together,and we are all palls from the association. We have played basketball in tournaments for people with developmental disorders, and we’ve won medals on two occasions. We have applied for the Special Olympics, and we are preparing for that already since we will face strong competition there. At the moment, I have a hip surgery scheduled; I think a lot about it, and I’m getting nervous. I hurt my hip when I was a kid and suffered a dislocated hip. I still played basketball without issues, and it didn’t bother me much. Our drills are really hard, but oh Lord are they good! I played table tennis for the national team, in doubles, and we took the fifth place. We could’ve done better, but the competition was fierce.

I’ve had so much support from the association;they were the ones who encouraged me to start selling the Liceulice magazine. I had quite a case of the jitters before I started selling, and I took slow sales badly. Now everything’s different: everybody knows about the magazine, and I have regulars. I have been seller of the month several times, and one year I got a medal for successful sales. I even sold English-language issues of Liceulice, and foreigners bought them.

My work as a Liceulice vendor has had such a positive effect on me, and it pays my wage and my bills. I don’t sell just in one place; I’m used to walking around and that suits me. The secret of a successful sale is saying something like this: Hello! Good day! My name is so and so. By buying this magazine, you can help others. A lady once told me that I’m always smiling and that’s why she buys from me. The more you engage with people while selling the magazine, the more people will buy it.

I hang out with a lot of other sellers, particularly Svetlana, David and Nenad. Me and Svetlana go way back, and we drink coffee together regularly. We all talk over the phone. I also really like socializing, and I’ve got a lot of friends in the association. We attend workshops, where music is my favourite activity. We even have food here, which means a lot to me. I only know to cook some eggs – nothing more!

I like to sleep when I’m at home, and I wake up late. I like drinking coffee – just one in the morning and that’s it. In the evenings, I like looking at the Facebooknewsfeed. I have a lot of friends I keep in touch with. I browse sports gear and listen to music. I can’t wait to retire. I haven’t been working for a long time, but I do have twenty years of employment behind me. If I could retire soon, I’d be a happy man.

I’d like to spend my retirement in Belgrade, still selling Liceulice,as doing that fulfils me. The best time of my life is right now – when I’m out selling the magazine. My dream is for me and my sister to buy our own flat and to have our own roof over our heads. I hope we can manage to make that dream a reality!

Translated from Serbian via Translators without Borders

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