I left home in 2002 @ 18 years old ready to see the world and chase my dreams. I ended up traveling cross country selling magazines door-to-door. I thank god everyday that I am here able to write this b/c I had no idea the true danger that I was in.
I took what looked like an awesome opportunity to make good money but quickly discovered that I worked all day in the rain, sleet and burning sun for maybe $5 to go to McDonald's with @ the end of the night. It took me a year to decide that I would rather try to find a way to make it on my own starting out completely homeless than to spend 1 more day making someone else rich while I earned pennies and endangered my life everyday while living out of hotels sharing a room with 4+ ppl. Nearly every dime you make is spent paying the hotel bills so you never actually see any of it.
I hope the message of this site gets out to young unsuspecting teens & young adults. There was so much danger that @ 18 I just didn't recognize.
I can vividly remember how the driver of the van that took me out everyday had a policy of no sleeping in his van in the mornings and thought it was funny to speed up well beyond the speed limit and then slam on the breaks unexpectedly to wake up anyone who'd dozed off - people actually flipped over the seats sometimes - it was unreal.
It was a couple years later after I finally got the nerve to leave and had successfully pulled myself out of homelessness when I did some research and discovered the horrible tradies, 99's fatal crash, the murders, rapes, etc. and realized that I was truly lucky to be alive. They prey on young people, gain their trust and make them feel like they care about them. The only reason I don't have a criminal record today is b/c of the officers who realized I had no idea how badly it would ruin my life if they properly arrested b/c I was in a no-soliciting area working for these people who assured me that "oh, nothing really happens you can still solicit here" despite clear signage stating otherwise. The officers would just drive you so far away you wouldn't feel like walking back rather than arrest you and give a permanent record b/c you were a kid who was just trying to survive. I've had young people knock on my door selling magazines and I never know what to do b/c I know from experience that even if I give them money just for themselves they'll probably turn it in as a subscription because of how mercilessly you're taunted and mistreated when you don't make your quota - you'd rather go hungry than not make your quota.
I am so sorry for the unneccessary loss of life and wish that I had never belonged to one of these organizations. I made it out alive and without any physical scars but no one's immune - if you don't leave with a physical scar you'll darn sure have mental and/or emotional ones so I can only hope the message you present here saves another young person.
If ther's a person out there reading this who thinks their stuck and have no other choice please don't believe that. I left the crew homeless @ 19 w/nothing but a bookbag on my back, I worked and put my self through college and am currently about to start working on my Master's degree - I'm barely 26 so it doesn't take a lifetime just hard work & faith (in yourself).
I am not superwoman, I'm just someone who realized I was worth more than the dangerous, unhealthy lifestyle afforded to me by these crews. Walk away while you still have the ability to physically do so. God Bless you all, strength and faith can carry you through even the seemingly impossible! You have my full permission to share this story, its the least I can do to help stop this madness.