Another installment of "The Invisible Ones" of washington, DC
The weather was Spring-like today, even though it is the end of February. As a result many of the city's homeless were out and about doing what they do. I came across Ricardo as he sat on the curb of a busy DC street corner trying unsuccessfully to attract the attention of passersby. Ricardo says he is a recovering alcoholic and has been sober for five years with more than a few relapses. He was sober on this particular day. He says he's been on the street for longer than he can remember and gets by solely on the kindness of strangers. He says his only family is a sister who is a nurse living somewhere in Ohio. He hasn't spoken with her for years and feels she wants nothing to do with him. Ricardo doesn't do well panhandling because he looks angry and glares at people who ignore him. A self defeating cycle for someone who is already invisible if ever there was one. He did agree to this photograph in exchange for a food voucher and a bottle of water. Ricardo is a frail, older gentleman who may have physical problems secondary to years of heavy drinking. He says he's fine but as a practical matter he looks terrible. He says when he fees sick he goes to Emergency room. He has a number of hospital wrist bands that he shows me as proof. The most recent being a trip to GW after he was knocked out and robbed. Ricardo sleeps outdoors because he feels the shelters are dangerous. He cites his recent assault as proof of that. Ricardo has it harder than most because his demeanor seems hostile and threatening. The look you see in this photograph came just as I suggested to him that people may avoid him because he looks angry. In spite of his appearance, Ricardo is easily engaged and receptive to any assistance that is offered. If you see or know someone like Ricardo, ask if you can help out is some way or just have a conversation. You'll both feel better having had that experience.