I wandered over to the benches near the Dupont Circle North entrance/exit…hoping to maybe find Johnnie, but he wasn’t there. Near the benches I saw some guys selling flowers, I walked over and met Abraham and Moses. Nice guys, but they both refused the $10.
Then I spotted Larry back over on the bench where I had met Johnnie. I walked over and handed him one of my cards and asked him to be recipient number 244. After a little discussion he said, “I will accept the $10 but I will not keep it, I will find someone else to give it to who needs it more than I do.”
Larry, a 55-year-old resident of DC, was enjoying a Starbucks coffee before catching the Metro home. He has worked in housekeeping at a nearby hotel for the past 17 years. “It’s a very good place to work,” he says. But as you can imagine, as someone who goes into guests rooms, he has seen some crazy things over the years. “I’ve seen grown men fist-fighting. I have seen rooms completely destroyed. I’ve probably seen it all.”
One of twelve children, Larry has grown up in this city. All twelve of the children and his parents still live here. He is married and has a daughter.
Larry was very committed to giving the $10 away. He tried several times while I was there with him, but was not successful. Some teenagers walked by and he tried to give it to them but they kept walking. A father walked by with his child and Larry jumped up to try to give it to them, but they didn’t even stop to talk to Larry…they just kept walking. Here he explains his rationale about his decision to pass the $10 along to someone else.
Finally I thought Larry was going to find someone. He found a student, Mike, who was sitting nearby on a bench. Mike said that as a student he didn’t have much money himself but that he was sure there were people more deserving than him, so he politely refused. Larry was struggling and becoming very anxious to give it to someone. When we parted ways, he said, “Call me tomorrow and I will tell you what happened to the money because I guarantee you that I am going to find someone to give it to today, I ain’t going to keep it.”
The next day I called Larry and said that he found a guy and took him to Subway and bought him a sandwich. “I still have $5 left though.” I am going to give Larry a call this week and meet him for coffee and see if he did something with the other $5.