Archive for May 17th, 2010

A man gives Jeffery some change (Photo: Reed)

If you have ever went into the CVS at Dupont Circle, there is a good chance that Jeffery held the door open for you.  I have gone to this CVS several times and most times there was someone holding the door.  I am not sure if it has always been Jeffery, because I sadly have not paid enough attention.

Jeffery is 47 and was born and raised here in our nation’s capital.  He was wearing an oversized sweatshirt, jeans, and a dark ball cap.  A latex glove covered his right hand which holds an ice tea canister that holds the money that he receives from those who stop and help him out.  

Jeffery’s soft polite voice greets the customers:

“Good evening”

“Hello ma’am, how are you today?”

“Have a nice evening.”

You might assume that he is homeless, but he is not.  He brings in about $100 a day panhandling.  He also has another job that he does during the summer months where he works with high-profile clientele in the DC area.  He preferred that I not share the name of his other place of employment.

Jeffery is charismatic.  He talks about how panhandling has taught him how to interact with others and how to deal with diversity.  “You gotta be able to deal with people out here.”  He explains that many people don’t carry much cash and prefer to use debit and credit cards, but that doesn’t deter him.  “I know that it is just a matter of time before they help me out.  I just try to be nice to everyone.” 

CVS however has asked him not to stand right by the entrance.  They would prefer that he stand a few yards away.  “But the people don’t give as much when I stand over there,” he says pointing to a spot closer to the street curb.  Being next to the door recently turned out to benefit the store.  Jeffery told me that a person ran out with some stolen goods and he was able to run after the person and recover the stolen merchandise.  

Jeffery (Photo: Reed)

While I was taking some photos of Jeffery, a woman yelled at me and told him to have more respect for himself and not allow me to take photographs of him.  He told me that he didn’t mind.

He wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the money.  That’s OK.  I know where to find him.  I told him I would be back this week to see what he had decided.  As I walked home I couldn’t help but wonder why a smart, charismatic man like him was panhandling.

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