Wednesday afternoon, while on the D.C. metro, I saw a homeless man working the train for change. Lots of loafers beg for money around Washington; they’re professional beggars whose job is collecting handouts, sometimes pretty aggressively.
But this guy looked truly down on his luck. I’m not tall, about 1.6 meters, and this guy, sporting a well-weathered sleeping bag, was shorter than me. He shuffled politely through the subway car, asking people for money. What surprised me was just how many folks gave him money. Unlike the professional beggars, which more typically use disposal cups, this guy took cash by hand. Like the others, I gave him some change; I wanted to give more but hadn’t hit the bank machine before going on a trip to New York. He literally got all that I had to give.