This is Big Dee
Another installment of “The Invisible Ones” of Washington, DC
I was walking along a street in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, DC near the Rock Creek Parkway when I noticed the trees and bushes moving. From this thicket of vegetation emerged Big Dee pushing and pulling an enormous pile of plastic bags loaded onto a shopping cart. His first response upon seeing me was to say, “good morning, I hope I didn’t frighten you.” Dee says he has been homeless for over 10 years and has most recently been living in this thicket to avoid the police who have threatened him with trespassing when he was more visible on the streets. Dee tells me that he keeps his cart here and goes out to panhandle and forage for food. He says that life is not easy but it could be worse, so he is blessed. Dee mentions that he was in and out of psychiatric hospitals as a young man but no one ever told him what the problem was. He says he is drug and alcohol-free because he can’t afford such things and given a choice between food or getting high, food always wins out. Dee has no connections with social services and doesn’t want any help from the city beyond just being left alone to live his solitary life. Dee gladly granted me permission to make these photographs in exchange for some food items and a bottle of water. He also insisted that I get a photo of his cart. If you happen to see Big Dee on the streets. Ask him how it’s going and what you might do to help him out. You’ll both be better off having had that experience.
Big Dee in his element