I left yoga today and headed to Wholefoods. I half expected to see the older man but didn't and I felt no intention of "interviewing" anyone else even though I did see a few others perched on corners and side streets. I know this is a generalization, but I have found the homeless to be very friendly in DC. They make eye contact with you and genuinely seem to want to make a connection independent of wanting anything from you. It really is refreshing to experience.
I saw a few people, made eye contact and said hello but nothing more as I went into the store. I bought a hodge podge of a few stuff for lunch and then hurried towards home. As I was walking down one street about two blocks for home a young man stopped me.
Norris: HI Mame. Can you spare a few dollars for food?
Me: Do you have a few minutes to talk?
Norris: (Shrugged his shoulders) Sure.
Me: Are you homeless? (Hand him some money and the fruit in my bag).
Norris: Yeah. (Oh! I love this kind of fruit! Starts eating it.)
Me: Where do you live?
Norris: I go from friend to friends
Me: Are you from DC?
Me: Is this where you want to live?
Norris: I would love to live in Atlanta
Me: Have you ever been?
Me: Do you mind if I ask you how old you are?
Norris: I am 26
Me: Wow. You are so young.
Me: Did you go to school?
Norris: i graduated form HS and went to...(names a school in DC)
Me: What kind of work do you want to do?
Norris: (Quickly) I will do anything! Dishwasher, anything!
Me: I wish I could get you a job . So you live on the street?
Norris: Yeah. It sucks. People try to steal your stuff.
Me: Ugh..you have nice clothes. What about Shelters?
Norris: I don't want to stay there. There are bugs.
Me: Did you work before?
Norris: Yeah. I was a security guard and was making a lot of money. But, I lost my job and now I have a record and cannot get a job. My baby's mom accused me of hitting her in the stomach when she was pregnant. I didn't do it! But I went to jail anyway.
Me: You went to jail?
Norris: Yeah. Six months. It was bad. (He points up the street).
Me: That must of sucked. It is a pretty serious accusation. You didn't do it?
Norris: No. She was just saying it.
Me: Why would she say it if it wasn't true?
Norris: She wanted to get money
Me: She got money from you?
Norris: No she got $2000 from the DV place.
Me: How old is your child?
Norris: She's 4. Chloe.
Me: Do you see her?
Norris: Not since I went to prison. Now I can't get a job anywhere. I have a record and am trying to get it expunged.
Me: That must be tough. If you were going to go back and do things over again, what might you have done differently? (Is there a moral to the story here?)
Norris: (Emphatically said) I would get it (my record) expunged!
Me: Well that is out of your control. What would you do differently?
Norris: I would have never met her and never had a kid
Me: Why did you drop out of school?
Norris: I have ADHD.
Me: Do you take drugs?
Norris: No (street drugs). I take Dexedrine 15 mg for my ADHD it is prescribed to me.
Me: Why did you drop out?
Norris: My grandmother died
Me: Was she paying for your education?
Norris: Yes, but that is not why. She was my backbone.
Me: I am sorry to hear that she died.
Norris: Yeah. (We both look away.)
Me: What is your family like?
Norris: They aren't up to par. (We both smile at his reference to them.)
Me: Oh. What advice would you give a little kid?
Norris: Stay home. I was in a hurry to leave home
Me: Would you mind, would it be ok if I took your picture?
Me: Is this ok?
Norris: Yup that's me (as he looks at the picture and smiles.)
Me: Do you have an email?
Norris: Yup. I check it every day at the library.
Me: Well I can't get you a job. I will write up your story for my blog site. I want to send you the write up and you can let me know if it's accurate and if you want me to change anything. Ok?
Norris: Yeah. (Starts to chuckle.)
Me: I know I am a little odd...(doing this)
Norris: It's alright. It's alright
Me: Thank you (shake hands. )
Norris: Norris (introduces himself). Like Chuck Norris
Me: Nice to meet you Norris
Post Note: Email from Norris-Thanks Kristin I really appreaciate you stoping and talking to me I hope everything goes well with the blog!
1/29/17 Update: Norris found a job and is working