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Posts Tagged ‘Dupont Circle’

Nikki panhandles near Dupont Circle, DC (Photo: R. Sandridge)

Nikki has been homeless off an on for the past 20 years.  She is 55 and says she suffers from various health complications stemming from some aneurysms that she has had.  She sits on the cold concrete ground, rocking back and forth, and never looking at me in the eye.  The emotion in her face has been completely drained.  She maintains that cool steady expression during the entire time that we speak.

I asked her what she planned on doing with the $10 and she said that she would probably use $5 for food and the other $5 to put on her Metro SmarTrip card.

Nikki says that people can stop by and say hello to her.  She is in/around the Dupont Circle most weekdays.  Also, she could use some help from somebody who understands Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).  She has been denied benefits and says that her case manager is not very helpful in getting the issue resolved.  So if anyone has some knowledge about this and is willing to share with Nikki, please let me know.

I taped a little video with Nikki which you can see here:

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This one will be a short one, as I have to get ready for my brother’s wedding.

I went to get my haircut yesterday at the Hair Cuttery in Dupont.  I like this location.  It is one of the very first Hair Cuttery locations.  I never request anyone and almost always have a good experience. 

Yesterday Nancy was to cut my hair.  She had cut my hair once before.  She is a petite asian woman who has worked there since 1979.  She is a very sweet woman, but she wouldn’t take my $10.  Neither would another worker there. 

On my way out, I asked the receptionist/cashier is she would accept it and she did.  Laqueen is 21 and has been working there for about a month.  The place is very busy and she keeps her cool as she coordinates who cuts whose hair (is that proper English?).  She said she would spend the $10 this week on some food.

If you need a good hair cut and don’t want to pay a fortune for it, head down to the Hair Cuttery in Dupont at Connecticut and R Street.

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I walked by the Best Cellars wine shop in Dupont today and saw the following sign out front.

So I went in to see what the deal was.  The shelves were almost completely bare.  I was promptly greeted and learned that Saturday would be there last day open – assuming they still have wine and accessories to sell. 

I was sad to see this shop close.  After searching the internet some, I found some reports that the landlord has received a much higher offer for rent from a cell phone company.  Although I totally agree with a free market, I am personally disappointed to see Best Cellars leave and a cell phone store take its place.  We have several cell phone stores in walking distance from the Best Cellars location and I have been to three of them and had terrible experiences at all three.  Not that we are short on wine shops in the neighborhood, we have plenty, but the staff at Best Cellars was always very friendly and took their time with customers who had trouble understanding and explaining what kind of wine they liked.

Anyway, I thought who better to give my $10 to than one of the three nice employees who were losing their job this Saturday when the store closes. 

Enter Ali, Lindsey, and “Lodogg.”  And Lodogg made sure to let me know that there were two “g”s in Lodogg.  I gave them $10 to split…and they said they would buy one of their highly discounted bottles of wine and toast to the last days working together.  Lucky for them, they all have other jobs…but they worked here for supplemental income (and I am guessing awesome discounts on wine!)

Lindsey, Lodogg, and Ali toast to their final days at work

All three of them hope to find new part-time work in the wine industry.  I will post this on the Lend a Hand section in case someone knows of some job leads for them.

If you are in the neighborhood, stick your head in and say hello (or good-bye) and grab some wine and accessories at a great price!

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I am snowed in. 

We got about two feet of snow in DC so far and it is still coming down lightly.  Trees are down, cars are completely covered, and people are heading to Dupont Circle for a massive snow ball fight…the news reported that some 3,000+ on Facebook have said the are going to join the fight.  I think I will stay here for now.

Last night my brother invited me to go to the Capitals game where they beat the Thrashers.  On my way home, some friends sent me a message to meet up for a drink at the Russia House.  I made my way through the snowy streets and arrived at the Russia House.  It was pretty busy.  My friends showed up and we had a few Lithuanian beers.

Beth was sitting next to us.  The 30-year-old lives in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in DC.  Although she studied Art and History in college, now she works in energy policy.  In addition to her job, she is enrolled in Johns Hopkins’ International Energy and Environment Program.  Coincidentally we discover that we have both lived in Brazil.  I lived in Sao Paulo for three years, she lived in Rio.

Beth said she was pretty sure that she knew what she wanted to do with the $10, but asked to follow up with me later on it.  I just got an email from her now saying that she donated the money to the World Resources Institute’s International Financial Flows and the Environment program.  That was the fastest follow up I have had so far!

By the way, Andrea S. from Day 48 followed up with me and let me know that she gave her money to the Woodside United Methodist Church Food Pantry.  She wrote me a nice note and I have asked her to post as a comment on her day’s blog post.

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So yesterday I started the Year of Giving. My first day of a year-long journey into exploring the act of giving and the meaning of altruism.  I chose December 15th as the starting date.  It marked three years since my mother died from heart disease.  She was one of the most generous people that I have ever known; rarely ever doing things for herself…with the exception of getting her hair done, which she really liked.  She always thought of others first and certainly serves as an inspiration to me.

I had a rather busy day yesterday, ironic for someone who is unemployed right now.  In the morning I went to the gym, tried unsuccessfully to get an actual human being from the unemployment office on the phone, and did some job searching.  Before I knew it it was noon.  I grabbed a quick lunch and hustled down to a meeting.  As I navigated my way down Connecticut, I wondered if I would see someone that I would feel compelled to give my first $10 to.  I was running late and decided to do it afterwards.

After the meeting I had about a half hour to find the first person of my Year of Giving!  I decided to check out Dupont Circle…I met a guy there named Jerry once (more on him some other day) and thought he would be a good recipient of my first $10.  He wasn’t there, but I did see a man sitting by himself who looked really lonely…so I approached him.  Now I had to figure out what I was going to say.  I think I said something like, “Hi…can I sit down here.  [long uncomfortable pause then while I figured out what the heck to say next] Then I just kind of blurted out, “I would like to know if I could give you $10.” He asked me to repeat what I had said.  I did, then he looked at me funny and got up and left.  Strike one.

I then started walking South where I spotted a man standing by the bus stop on Connecticut Ave.  He appeared to be in his 60s.  I don’t know what drew me to him, but I thought I would make my second attempt.  I was a bit nervous and asked him which bus came by that stop.  Then I explained that I was starting a year-long project to give $10 to someone every day and that I wanted to give my $10 for today to him.  The gentleman, I later found out that his name was Ed, responded without hesitation that he could not accept my offer and that there were many people more deserving of the money than him.  This was precisely one of the things that I hoped would happen.  That people would think of others before themselves!  And although I was thrilled that this happened, I still needed to find someone and I was running out of time before I needed to go and pick some friends up and give them a ride to Silver Spring.  So strike two!

Knox braves the cold to make a few dollars shining shoes.

Then I spotted a man on the corner of 21st and P with a small bench and some shoe shine equipment.  I approached Knox, a black gentleman bundled in winter clothes with just the knot of his neck-tie sticking out of his jacket.  He later told me he was 50 years old, he looked much younger.  I asked him if he would accept my $10.  He hesitated and then agreed.  He struggled to come up with an answer when I asked him what he was going to do with my $10.  The alcohol that enveloped each of his words gave me a hint though of where it might go.  I explained that I was not going to judge him on what he chose to do with the money, that it was his and up to him what he wanted to do with it.

We chatted for a while…he spoke of the struggles that he has had and his attempts at staying sober.  “I’m about 50/50,” he said when I asked how his sobriety was.  He said he occasionally goes to AA meetings, but admitted that there had been times he had got himself some eggnog before the meetings.  Eggnog!  What?!  The last thing I would think of that a guy who wanted to get his alcohol fix for the day would want is eggnog!  I laughed…and he assured me that the eggnog was good.  He told me that he was probably going to buy some eggnog with the money.  Oh well.

I explained what I was doing.  He smiled at one moment and said, “maybe some of your readers want a shoe shine!”  Please visit Knox at the corner of 21st and P if you need a good shoe shine or want to know anything about eggnog.

I had to get going.  Before I left, I took a picture of Knox in front of his shoe shine stool and wished him well.  I told him to stay healthy and he said he would try…and warned me of the dangers of eating chocolate bars and “peanut chews.”

UPDATE: February 23, 2011

I caught up with Knox in 2011 – click here to read the update with him and see how he is doing.

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