This is Delbert
Another installment of “The Invisible Ones” of Washington, DC. I noticed Delbert sitting on the sidewalk outside of the Whole Foods store in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, DC. with a military style duffle bag and a paper cup in front of him with exactly (4) four pennies in it. I watched Delbert for awhile from inside the store and noticed how he did nothing to interact with passersby other than looking at them. I sat on the sidewalk next to him and he extended his hand introducing himself as Delbert. When asked he told me he had come to DC from Texas about two years ago and had been sleeping on the street the entire time. It soon became evident that Delbert was very delusional. The more he spoke the more pressured and insistent his thinking became. All of his delusions are about his being persecuted by the Federal Government after he was arrested for sleeping in a Government building in Texas. He comes to DC to somehow rectify that situation. He speaks of going to the Capitol building and camping out on the floor until he can speak with the President. He has no appreciation for the fact that he will most certainly encounter the police should he try to follow through with that plan. I asked him why he chose this particular location to panhandle and his response was even more delusional, having to do with the confluence of x-rays from a nearby hospital and radio waves from the State Department which was just a few blocks away. I offered Delbert a bottle of water and some food in exchange for this photograph. He agreed after I promised not to tell the State Department that he as listening in on their radio transmission. While it is interesting to listen to the delusional conversations of the mentally ill, it is also incredibly tragic that these folks are languishing on the streets of Washington, DC. While the city continuously talks about affordable housing and housing for homeless families, mentally ill, single women, and men like Delbert fall between the cracks. The next time you are out and about in the city, take notice of the panhandlers, particularly those who may appear mentally ill. They could use a moment of your time and kindness more than most. I promise that the two of you will be better off having had that experience.