Another installment of “The Invisible Ones” of Washington, DC
Reggie is a 50 something, homeless man who is also physically disabled and walks with the assistance of a walker. I first saw him at Union station panhandling near the train gates as passengers were arriving. Given that he moves very slowly with his walker the transit police asked him to move along as he was impeding the flow of traffic. I caught up with him as he was standing near a wall out of the flow of pedestrian traffic. Reggie has been living on the streets for the past three years having been kicked out of his last place of residence for being drunk. He is a chronic alcoholic. He says he’s been sober this time for about 2 months. He cannot recall how many times he’s been through the cycle of sobriety and relapse but he thinks it’s a lot. He says he has nerve problems in his legs which is why he uses the walker. A doctor once told him this was from drinking but that hasn’t stopped him. When asked why he’s been sober these last two months he just says, “he’s tired of being sick.” Needless to say Reggie’s ability to panhandle is severely limited by his disability. He agreed to this photograph in exchange for a food voucher and a bottle of water. It is very striking to see how invisible a person like Reggie can become in a crowd of busy commuters at Union Station. He could just as easily be a trash can or some other inanimate object rather than an unfortunate human being.