Local Hustler: James Freeman

James Freeman
Photo courtesy of JH Photography

You can’t miss him at the Silver Spring Metro station…. or maybe it’s that he can’t miss you. James Freeman is the friendly face you see bright and early on your morning commute diligently walking up and down the sidewalks, handing out the Express paper on the side of the Transit Center facing the McDonald’s. He’s worked with the Express for eight years, with the Silver Spring station being his post for the past two. I took a leisurely walk with James from the station to Kefa Café one beautiful Saturday morning, where we chatted about his connection to Silver Spring and his outlook on his work and life.

Through a series of quotes, here’s what James shared with me on:

His Strategy – “You attack. One minute I’m here, next thing you know I’m all the way down there. That’s part of our job… interact with our customers. You meet them. You can’t get rid of no papers in one spot.”

Consistency – “The only times I don’t show up is if I have an appointment or I’m sick or something. Even when it’s cold, cold, cold… 7 degrees… we ‘re out there. I like it… When I’m at work, all the problems that I have, when I walk out the door, as my problems stay there. As soon as I get to Silver Spring, it’s different. I’m not gonna drop my problems off on you. I’m not gonna show you how I look with my problems. I’m not gonna change; you know, I’m gonna be the same person that I was that day, the next day, and the day after… you’ll see me grinning, no matter what. Even after I came back when my wife passed away, I came back and I’m still the same. I know that’s what she would of wanted”.

City Place Back Then – “That used to be the hangout… Youngins used to stay up there. You couldn’t keep the youngins from going up there. They don’t go to shop… they go to meet one another. To window shop.”

Silver Spring-ers – “I look forward to coming here every morning, seeing them, being with them. All you guys make my day. I look forward to coming here. I don’t have no problems.”

So how about that Transit Center? – “None of that bothers me… that’s Metro problems… construction problems…”

Safety First – During a winter storm, James made a pathway with Express papers so we wouldn’t slip on our way to board the Metro. He says, “Always care about safety… #1… Believe me, you should have heard the compliments I got from that. I didn’t care how many papers it took”.

Respect – “Respect don’t cost you one brown penny. It’s free. Just like the Express papers. That’s all people want; that’s all you can give them. They think that I make their day, they make mine, cuz I look forward to seeing them every morning. I know some people get up in the morning, and even before they leave the house, it’s a rough start…A lot of them, I get a lot of support from… cuz I have problems, too.”

With a spirit like James, it’s no wonder he often gets handed gift cards, gold coins, and other gifts for being there rain or shine, and doing his job with zeal and a warm smile. Though not a Silver Spring resident, he’s someone that brightens our days, and we hope he’ll continue to be here for years to come.


Boosaba Pananon
For the past few years, I have worked as a development professional, raising funds for non-profit organizations to help them achieve their missions. I am passionate about building and being part of a warm community that welcomes people from diverse backgrounds, with unique talents, and quirky ways! I would love to see Silver Spring become a go-to place for not just great ethnic food, but also outdoor festivals and unique events that celebrate local artists and communities, and just get people outside having fun and meeting their neighbors. I'm not saying that we aren't already on our way, but I'd like to see this become more apparent to our neighbors in DC, VA, and other areas in MD, too.

  • Jacqueline Lara

    Aw, thanks for sharing James’ story-—you’ve got to respect his hustle! His outlook on life and work is a great reminder to see the beauty/positive side of all things.

  • Boosaba Pananon

    Yes, he’s a real gem, that’s for sure! I have much appreciation for people who take their jobs to a whole ‘nother level — using their work to brighten other people’s days.

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