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Well, just when I thought I had resolved the problems with my unemployment situation, I found another hurdle.  You might recall I went in person a few weeks ago and met with the facility manager at the Rhode Island Ave. location, Ms. Bonham.  When I logged into the website to check to see if my payments had been processed I saw that it had the same error as before.  I called Ms. Bonham and she remembered me right away and said she would try to resolve this once and for all.  Despite the headaches I have had getting this to work, the people at the unemployment office have been extremely friendly and professional.

I am fortunate to have a small savings that can carry me over until I find new employment.  I have a college degree, solid professional experience, car, internet access, phone, etc.  I am sure that many people who are filing for unemployment do not have these things.  What would they do if they went three months without being able to get a resolution from the unemployment office?  How would they logistically or financially get themselves to the unemployment office?  Would they be able to access all the forms that they refer to online?  Ok, I will be quiet now.

So yesterday I got home from my theatre rehearsal around 11pm.  I still needed to give away my $10 so I went out to quickly find someone before midnight.  I found Larry sitting against a bank on a busy street.  As I approached him he asked if I could spare some change.  I asked him if $10 would help and he replied, “Hell yeah!” I kneeled down beside him and gave the 54-year-old lifelong resident of DC a crisp $10 bill.  He looked at it almost as if he was checking to see if it was counterfeit and then it disappeared into his coat.

Larry has been homeless in DC for more than 10 years.  He used to be a food and beverage supervisor at the Hyatt Regency.  When he lost his job he said that things just snowballed and he ended up on the streets.  Now he spends his days and evenings panhandling.  Larry laughs easily and grins revealing that half of his upper teeth are missing.  His eyes are glassy and the alcohol on his breath smells almost medicinal.  He says his eyes are really bad.  He needs prescriptive lenses and has cataracts.  His parents have passed away, but he has three siblings, a sister with whom he has contact, another sister that he has lost contact with and a brother that he is not in touch with since he was hospitalized for mental illness.  Needless to say, Larry has a handful of issues.

He is not shy to ask me questions.  Larry investigates why I am doing the Year of Giving, what others have done with the money, etc.  He says that he will spend the $10 to get some food this week.

I stood for a second to stretch my legs.  It was uncomfortable talking to him while standing though so I returned to my squatting position.  How do baseball catchers do it…my knees are killing me.  Our conversation sailed back and forth jumping all over the map.  He proudly told me that he met Dr. Martin Luther King when he was 9 years old when the great leader was giving a speech at a DC school.  He later goes on to ask what I was going to do on Martin Luther King Day.  Interesting that he asked, as my friend Kim just invited me to participate in a day of service preparing food next Monday for Martha’s Table, an organization that helps at-risk children, youth, families, and individuals in the community improve their lives by providing educational programs, food, clothing, and other support.  We will be preparing food for them.  Thanks for including me Kim!

I started to cough and am reminded that I need to get indoors and get some rest.  I have been battling a cold for some time.  I wish Larry well, shake his hand, and head home.

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