I came across Pam in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, DC. She was sitting on the curb, looking disheveled and in need of some clean clothing. She wasn’t panhandling but didn’t seem to mind my asking her if she needed any assistance in exchange for a photograph.
Pam tells me she was recently released from prison having served 18 months for assaulting two people who were trying to rob another homeless person in the park where they were sleeping. She says she stabbed one of them which got the police involved and she was arrested and charged. She says doing time isn’t a big deal for her as she’s been there before and in some ways it’s better than being on the street. Pam is currently homeless and says she has few prospects given her prison record, drug problems and lack of education. She has resigned herself to either living on the street or ending back in prison. Pam is aware of services available to her in DC but says she doesn’t get along with people so it’s best she keeps to herself. It’s a safe bet that given her invisibility to passersby in this affluent DC neighborhood, she’ll get her wish to remain by herself.
If you see Pam in this neighborhood of Washington, DC, or know someone like her, stop for a moment and have a human to human conversation. Ask if you can help out in some way. I guarantee you’ll both be better off having had that experience.