This is Nate, one of “The Invisible Ones” of Washington, DC. Saying that Nate is invisible is somewhat of a misnomer as he is an everyday presence outside of the George Washington University Hospital complex in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, DC. Nate is easily recognizable by his distinctive attire, his two enormous shopping carts that form a moveable caravan for all of his worldly possessions and an array of used books and magazines arranged on the sidewalk where he spends his mornings. Nate has been living on the streets for many years and has somehow managed to survive on the kindness and good will of those who know him. He arrives at his spot on K Street at the South end of Washington Circle during the morning rush hours. Hundreds of passersby need to walk past him on their way to the Metro or numerous other places in this busy commercial area. If you observe Nate which I often do, you will notice that the vast majority of passersby avert their eyes, which seems almost impossible given the scene before them. Yet, Nate remains invisible.
Nate is not an aggressive panhandler. If you choose to donate or interact, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine too. What is unique about Nate is if you choose to make a material or monetary donation, he insists that you choose something from the array of used books and magazines arranged on the sidewalk. “You give to me, I give to you, it’s the way of the world.” Around late morning, Nate will pack up his two shopping carts, lash them together and push and pull them to his afternoon and evening location a mile away in Georgetown. After dark he has an agreement with a business owner to stow his carts behind the business in the alley in a secure spot, where he sometimes sleeps until the entire cycle repeats itself the next day. If you see Nate or someone like him, stop and say hello. Ask them what you can do to help. I guarantee you’ll both be better off for having had that experience.