"One of the things I wish is that everybody--and I mean everybody; black, white, green, or yellow--get out of their tunnel vision selfishness and help each other. Just something. Don't have to be big."
He sat watchfully near the Foggy Bottom Chipotle as bundled up passersby brisked around him and down the sidewalk.
Thomas, as he introduced himself to us, has lived in D.C. his whole life and he spoke about the city with the pride of an active civic participant.
"I took the liberty of writing Eleanor Holmes Norton," he informed us. "I said there shouldn't be no homelessness here. This is the nation's capitol. I'm just dumbfounded."
"People keep talking about the church," he commented, picking at his coat. "I am the church. They are the church. The building just a building."
"It's a crying shame that there's all this homelessness," he continued, shaking his head and tsking his tongue. "I got housing. I got it through Community Connections. But somebody, somebody stole my key two days ago. They slipped their hand into my bag here and took it. It's $100 to replace a key. I don't have that! So I'm in shelters til I get a new key. Then I'll go back."
We chatted a little more on D.C. topics like the Redskins ("Damn owner needs to change the name!) and Mayor Bowser's term in the city and what the weather was doing before I asked Thomas what he usually does during the day.
"I go to the library. I get on the computers; I listen to music; I try to keep myself occupied so I don't do something stupid. I laugh a lot to keep myself from crying. Something's gotta change."
"What should change?"
"Oh, you know," he said, waving his hand at me and looking everywhere else--at the icy blue sky above; the stone, glass, and brick facades of the buildings around; the construction down the street; the strangers rushing by. "Make these people responsible--myself included. Mayor Bowser, Eleanor Holmes Norton, they can't do it all on their own." He broke off, then shrugged and added softly, pointedly, "You know; it takes a village."
Guest Writer: Heather Hill
Heather Hill is the Assistant Manager of donor acquisition & digital fundraising at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is a graduate of Houghton College, and Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the Human Rights Co-Chair of the United Nations Association of the National Capitol Area, and you can find her performance reviews on MD Theatre Guide.