I stopped at the K street entrance to buy Street Sense from the vendor. He asked me to step slightly around the corner so he could show me his newly acquired high school diploma.I work with the homeless and downtown poor at my church, Church of the Epiphany, by preparing breakfast for the homeless. From this experience, I feel a strong sense of good will when I see people taking care of themselves and not letting homelessness beat out their sense of self. So, I earnestly shook this vendor’s hand, congratulating him. After buying the paper, he asked me out for date. I responded, “Not funny.” “Why?” he said. I sputtered a bit. “Because I’m married.” (True.) “Oh,” he said. I really wish I had been quick on my feet to say, “Because I wanted to buy a paper, not get hit on.” I think it’s too easy to respond to harassers on a personal insult level instead of please treat me like a person.
This story brought out some interesting conversation within myself. I doubted myself. This man is homeless. I’m working on K Street. I have so much more privilege than him. I should ignore his comment. No wait this made me uncomfortable. Am I uncomfortable because he’s homeless?
And once I got to that last question, I could answer, “No, I’m uncomfortable because I was hit on and I just wanted to buy my paper and shoot the crap a bit.” Chatting with a stranger doesn’t have include or justify getting hit on!
Submitted by Ryan on 7/4/2010
Location: K Street
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