Some friends of mine were in town this weekend and we met for brunch at Kramer’s in Dupont. For those of you who have been following the blog, you probably have figured out that I like that place.
They have a decent brunch. I am not sure that I am a brunch person…I always struggle between the breakfast and lunch options. It doesn’t really matter I guess though, whatever you order you are going to eat too much probably and feel a bit comatose when you’re done. As we forced our sluggish bodies out of the iconic locale, we saw a homeless man right outside of the door. I decided to see if he would accept my $10.
It’s a strange feeling when you stand inches away from someone who has committed heinous crimes and feel compassion for them rather than fear. To say that Norman is a likeable fellow is an understatement.
His home now is the New York Avenue Shelter. He says that he tends to be a bit of a loner preferring not to associate with other people at the shelter. He explains that taking sides is how you get into trouble; probably a lesson he learned in prison. I asked him what his future looks like. He kind of shrugged as if to say that he doesn’t see his life getting much better. I asked him if he was aware of organizations that could offer him help to get back on his feet. His eyes look downward, then up and into my eyes, “If after 35 years in DC, 18 years in 7 different prisons, you don’t know how to take care of yourself, you aint ever gonna learn.”
Norman said he was going to use the money for some food and transportation this week. He said it was very generous. On a good day he told me he can bring in about $110 panhandling. One time a doctor over near P Street gave him $40.
Like many of the other homeless people that I have met, I feel sad to say goodbye. I know that I am going back to my warm comfortable home and he will still be here in 20 degree weather. I shake Norman’s hand and give him a smile and tell him to take care of himself. I hope that I run into Norman again.