I have arrived safely here in Manizales, Colombia. I am a little behind with my posting but that is somewhat acceptable if you consider what my internet set-up might be in such a beautiful location like this.
By the way, I have been thinking that it would be a good idea to document the giving experiences from Colombia in both Spanish and English. For one reason, if a recipient doesn’t read English very well they won’t be able to read their own blog posting which just seems wrong. Given my schedule, it would be great to have a native speaker “guest translate” for each of the days that I am here. If you are interested, let me know.
Last week the New York Mets baseball team was in town to take on the Washington Nationals. I grew up a huge Mets fan. Living in Central PA you would think that I would be a Philadelphia Phillies or Pittsburgh Pirates fan. The only explanation that I can give is that I started to follow them because we got WWOR Channel 9 from Secaucus, NJ which carried almost all of the Mets games at the time. It certainly wasn’t because of the team’s record back then. I started following them in the early 1980s when they were not a pretty sight. They got better though and went on to win the 1986 World Series. My father took me to game 5 of the National League play-offs that year against the Houston Astros. It’s one of my fondest childhood memories.
Anyway, I made it to two Mets games last week. My friend Chris and I were leaving the game and getting on the Metro when I saw a young guy playing the violin. I offered him the $10 but he declined when he learned that I would write about the encounter on the blog.
I scanned the scene for another recipient. It was almost as if a river current was carrying everyone to the Metro. In the middle of this swift moving mob was a woman holding her own against the current while she handed out the Express newspaper; a free paper published by the Washington Post that is mostly distributed to commuters. I have given several times to the vendors of Street Sense, but I have never given to anyone from the Express organization. So I did.
Sharon was busy trying to capture the attention of the mostly disinterested passersby. She has handed out the Express for three years she tells me. “On a good day I hand out about 1,500 papers.” I remember responding to her with something like, “Wow, you sell a lot of papers!” I knew the paper was free but I just misspoke. She quipped back, “Honey, if I was selling these things I’d be a millionaire by now!”
She went on to tell me that “the people are the best part of the job!” Although that evening was almost perfect, Sharon says that she dreads the hottest and coldest days of the year. “That’s the worst part about this job: the weather.”
Originally from West Virginia, the 49-year-old now calls Washington, DC her home. She certainly makes a lot of us feel at home here when she give’s us our paper and wishes us a nice day. She told me that she was going to use the $10 to help pay for her transportation to and from work. I didn’t want to keep her from her job much more so I thanked her (and she thanked me right back) and said “goodnight.”
I am looking forward to writing more about Manizales this week. It’s a beautiful tranquil space. This should be a very busy and exciting 10 days!
Check out this short clip of Sharon in action!