It seems like just yesterday I was packing up my things and heading off to Washington D.C., but now it is Friday, March 4th and 4:42 pm and I’m sitting at my regular spot at the kitchen counter, typing up one of the final few posts recapping the trip.
Firstly, let me say that not only was the Washington D.C. trip incredibly fun and new and exciting, but it was also humbling and shocking (and in some ways depressing).
Let me recap yesterday.
Jeff had straight A’s in high school, has a college education, speaks eloquently, has a kind soul and a happy heart, and wants nothing more than to bring a smile to your face. Jeff has bipolar disorder. Jeff is formerly homeless.
Jeff sells papers for Street Sense, an organization that helps the homeless get back on their feet by providing them with a meager source of income. Street Sense is a paper written mostly by the homeless, focusing on homelessness issues in Washington D.C. and the world. Homeless individuals can buy a paper from the organization for 35 cents a pop, and then sell them on appointed D.C. street corners for 65 cents profit.
Yesterday our group donned the bright yellow uniform that designates a Street Sense vendor and walked past the White House, past several eateries, to K Street, a street infamous for lobbyists and nightclubs. For two and a half hours, from 10 am until 12 30 pm, our group scattered over a five-block radius and sold papers for the benefit of Jeff.
It’s unbelievable how cold some people can be. I found that many people walked faster when they noticed my luminescent yellow vest, and the great majority of people refused to make eye contact with me.
I would say, “Good morning sir/ma’am! Support the city’s homeless for a dollar?”
And you know how people answered 9 times out of 10? They said, “No, thanks.”
I remembered that Jeff said not to be offended, just smile and say “God bless,” or “Have a beautiful day,” but I just couldn’t understand. Nothing I said constituted a “No, thanks.”
You say no, thanks, when something is offered to you. You say no, thanks, when the flight attendant asks you if you want a drink. You say no, thanks, when you’re asked if you want all your hair chopped off.
You do not say no, thanks, when someone asks you to look into your heart to donate 1 dollar, just one dollar, to maybe better the life of someone else.
I did listen to Jeff and pretend it didn’t bother me that at least two hundred people passed me on that absolutely frigid morning and only around 12 of them bothered to pull a dollar out of their pocket.
There was one particular man who I remember. He had on a green tie, a pale blue shirt, and a black, very business-y looking jacket (he had pants on too). He crossed the block at least three times, and every time I asked him again if he would be willing to donate a dollar to support Jeff. Around 11 45, when I could hardly move my fingers any more and my toes were so cold they were starting to feel warm again, I saw him cross the street and walk purposefully towards me.
“I went to lunch,” he said and smiled, handing me a dollar, “This is my change.”
A lot of other stuff happened, and I’ll post about it later, but for now I’m just going to post a few more pictures!
Hope everyone is having a great break/ beginning of March!!