Tag Archives: taxes

Warning: Not very pithy, served with a dose of politics. Sorry.

31 Jan

The other weekend I had a quintessential DC moment. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was out for a walk. I’d ventured down to the MLK library and walked back past Franklin Square, where homeless people were huddled around eating food that had been distributed by So Others Might Eat.

This is NOT the S.O.M.E van. But wouldn't it be awesome if it were? "Oh hells yeah! I'm gonna get me some wildlife from this van!"

Whenever I see the white S.O.M.E. van, it reminds me of my first winter in DC, when my college friends Brent and Marcus (my then-roommates on Capitol Hill) volunteered to help deliver food. I remember Marcus’s eyes, wide like saucers, recounting the experience after their first time out.

“It was crazy, man,” he said, and I swear his voice had a slight tremble. “We pulled up and it was like a bank heist – we’d be all organized and spring out and start handing out the food as fast as possible. Someone would stay at the wheel in case things got violent and we needed to leave fast.”

Another casualty of delivering food? “People get sick. If it’s the first thing they’ve eaten for a while, it just doesn’t sit well,” Marcus explained.

Apparently Marcus wasn’t exaggerating, because last weekend when I was walking, just after passing the group of people who were eating their S.O.M.E. meals, I looked up and accidentally locked eyes with a man standing with one hand on sign post, projectile vomiting. If you’ve never made eye contact with a stranger puking, I don’t advise it.

The thing that made this experience weird (other than the eye contact bit) was that he was just very matter of fact about it. So calm that I actually found myself scrutinizing the pile of vomit as I walked past it to make sure my eyes hadn’t deceived me. (Confirmed!)

And once he’d finished tossing his cookies (or – more accurately – clam chowder, by the steamy looks of it), he turned around and successfully hailed a bus and disappeared. HAILED A BUS. I didn’t even know a person could do that.

Dude. Only in Canada. They have KITS for this.

Estimates of DC’s homeless population range from 6,000 – 12,000 people. To put that in perspective: my hometown in Michigan has a population of 5,800.

There’s something wrong with this picture. Even with high unemployment rates, we live in a country where most homes have multiple televisions, cars and an extra bedroom. And yet we leave people to sleep without shelter, to scrounge their next meal, while we argue over tax rates for those of us fortunate enough to have a job.

I swear, I’ll get back to the pith (and vinegar) in my next post. I just figured this might be a good reminder – right when we’re in the throes of filing taxes and acutely feeling how much money we didn’t get to hang onto this year – of exactly what we have.

To quote a friend: Love your neighbor, not your wallet.

UPDATED: Unless your wallet looks like this. In which case, you totally should love it: