Our vendors: Leo (bodo, Dortmund, Germany)

By Sebastian Sellhorst, bodo

Normally, Leo always gets around on his bike. For us, though, he left it behind today and we took the train. “I almost always ride my bike, if it’s not raining. I’ve even made the trek to Körner on foot, but I can’t do that anymore, my knees are not as young as they used to be,” he tells us. No problem with his bike, though. Leo rides at least 10 kilometres a day, usually more.

bodo vendor Leo. Photo: Sebastian Sellhorst

As we drive along the street together, Leo tells us about his days on the job. “A bit of cycling is pure relaxation. I probably like bodo so much because I like being outdoors. Sometimes my wife wonders why I sell it so often, but I just have to get outside. Sitting around the house is not for me.”

Every day, Leo sells bodo in front of the small supermarket on the intersection of Körner Hellweg and Berliner Street.

We have yet to arrive at Leo’s sales pitch when the first customer stops to ask how his back is doing. The two are quickly engaged in a technical conversation about slipped disc treatments and the various orthopaedists in the city.

Not two seconds after the customer has moved on, another customer comes by, informing Leo she won’t be there next month. She’ll be going off for a longer cure treatment, so he shouldn’t worry when she doesn’t come. Normally, she buys the magazine as soon as it’s issued at the beginning of the month, Leo informs me.

Leo makes a sale. Photo: Sebastian Sellhorst

Beginning at 10am, Leo is standing on his pitch, five days a week. “I ride home for lunch. When the weather is nice, I come back in the afternoon. I’m allowed to sell inside or take a rest on the small seating area in the entranceway, but I prefer standing outside the supermarket.”

When sales are down in the evenings, Leo rides his bike to sell the street paper outside the musical Mama Mia. In the beginning he only sold bodo outside in front of the Italian restaurant in the Saarland Street neighbourhood. But now he’s friendly with the manager and is permitted to sell inside, too.

“Of course, when there’s a private party I stay outside unless the manager says it’s okay for me to come in for a moment,” he says.

“That’s a nice change of scene. I’ll see some people more than once on one day. In the mornings they buy my magazine and in the evenings, I see them at dinner. It’s nice to hear that my customers miss me when I don’t turn up a couple of days in a row.”

Translated by Ramey Rieger, Translators Without Borders.

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