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Archive for April 24th, 2010

On Tuesday I met with my group of unemployed colleagues that meet weekly to help each other in their career search.  This was the day the AOL news report hit…my blackberry went berserk with a barrage emails and comments coming in just as I entered the meeting.  After the session, I was anxious to get back to my apartment to start responding to the comments, but I needed to find a recipient for the day.

"Emanuele" in front of a statue of David G. Farragut, a Union admiral in the American Civil War famous for rallying his fleet with the cry, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" (Photo: Reed)

I walked over to Farragut Square to see who was in the park.  It was there that I spotted an African-American man with short white hair sitting on his knees, barefoot, hunched over a park bench.   I sat down a short distance away and took a few pictures of him.  After watching him for a few minutes, I decided to approach him.

As I got close to the man I noticed that he had what looked like a scrap book or a book that you sign in on at a wedding reception.  He was entering some notes into the book.  Next to him was a small composition book, a bible, two bags, and a pair of old flip flops.  

I introduced myself and he accepted my $10.  I asked if I could ask him some questions and he became nervous and asked me to walk a few steps away from the bench to talk with him.  He spoke with an accent that made me believe that he had moved here from Africa in the last 10 or 15 years.  

We walked about 10 feet away and he explained that he couldn’t talk there because there were too many people watching and listening.  He mentioned that the park was full of CIA and others.  He suggested that I come back on another day and if he was on the west side of 17th Street, then he would be free to talk.  If he was in the park, then it would be too risky.

We walked back over to the bench.  I asked him his name and he gave me a look like, “Hey I just told you I can’t talk here” but told me that I could call him “Emanuele.”  He let me look at his book.  There were three paragraphs on the left side of the page.  I couldn’t really understand what he had written, however,  I saw a social security number and he said that that person had now been arrested based on intelligence that he had passed along.   

"Emanuele" (Photo: Reed)

We only spoke for about 10 minutes and then I left.  I didn’t get to ask him any of my normal questions that I ask, but he did offer some information.  He showed me a construction area on the northwest corner of K Street and Connecticut Avenue where he explained that three buildings used to exist.  They have been torn down and construction is started on a new building complex there.  He spoke about several conflicts that the previous owners have with the city about how this was handled, however I only understood about half of what he said.  

I agreed to come back and see him when he was not being monitored in the park.

As for the $10, he said he was going to go to McDonald’s and get him a couple of cheeseburgers.

I headed back to my apartment to find almost 1,000 emails/comments from you guys!

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