continued Soon, Thompson was selling 80 papers a day and making "anywhere between $35 and $75 a day" in paper sales and tips. "I got a $100 tip at Christmastime once," he says. Combined with $803 a month in Social Security, Thompson was getting by, sometimes living in low-end hotels near San Diego City College, sometimes sleeping on the street. Then, "We got a notice from the drivers of the van that we had 30 days to start saving our money, because this program was going to end August 18. I worked my hardest to make money and save money. And when news got out that they were going to shut down the program, a lot of people wrote letters to the Union-Tribune telling them not to shut it down. Then Mark Freeman got on the bandwagon, and he's been a very strong advocate to keep this job going. He tried to get a 90-day window so we could renegotiate. But nobody seemed to be as interested as Mark Freeman."
According to Freeman, Upscale Sales made efforts to keep the program working. "Within the first couple of weeks," he says, "Upscale had prepared a flyer and asked the hawkers to ask their customers to indicate that the program was valuable to them by contacting the Union-Tribune. The Union-Tribune came back to Upscale and said, you have other contracts with us -- for example, they distribute the newspaper at the Del Mar Racetrack and at the Padres games -- and if you make any heat for us, we are going to take all of your contracts. So Upscale told their vendors that they couldn't do any more leafleting in support of the program. I went out myself and distributed some flyers Thursday [August 15] of the final week. The program was supposed to run through Sunday, August 18. But, on Friday, the Union-Tribune told Upscale that it was yanking the program, so the guys didn't have the opportunity to sell for the last two days. I think it was strictly in retaliation for me exercising my First Amendment right. The brunt of it, of course, fell on the vendors, so I felt terrible."
Thompson says he bears no hard feelings toward Freeman. "How could I?" he asks. "Mark Freeman has done a lot for me and the other hawkers out of the goodness of his own heart. He's been like an angel from the Lord."
Through Freeman's efforts, an article about Edmund was published in the Coast News in August. An administrator at the Seacrest Jewish retirement community in Encinitas read the article, contacted Freeman, and offered Edmund his current job washing dishes in the home's kitchen.
Though Thompson would have liked to keep his hawking job, he says he understands why the Union-Tribune shut the program down. Most of the other hawkers, he explains, weren't applying themselves the way he was. "Not hardly," he says. "See, the way it was, if you sold 40 papers or more, you had to live on what you made from those paper sales. If you sold less than 40 papers, then you got a subsidy check. It wasn't always like that. Originally, if you sold under 40 papers, you got $11 a day subsidy. If you sold over 40 papers, you got $7 a day. Then they said anybody who sells over 40 doesn't get a subsidy. So most of the new guys coming into the program, they figured, 'What the hell? Why should I worry about selling papers? I'll just sell a few, keep it under 40, and take my subsidy check at the end of the week.' But they were doing the Union-Tribune a disservice, they were doing me and the three or four other hawkers who were working hard a disservice, and they were doing Upscale Sales a disservice. They should have been out there selling the papers and raising the paper's sales so that the project would have been profitable."