The Conversation Guy

musings from a guy who likes to work any crowd

My New Friend, Carl

with 3 comments

Carl and Conversation Guy - 10-19-09

So, after my chiropractor appointment today, I decided I’d stop at the corner of 19th & K Streets NW to have a chat with a guy selling Street Sense, DC’s newspaper for the homeless. I asked him if I gave him a donation to buy the paper if he would talk to me, to which he replied, “I have all day.” He told me more about Street Sense… Homeless people write articles and, in exchange for writing them, they’re given papers to sell (it’s published bi-weekly). Or, you can buy papers for 35 cents each as a distributor and then sell them (suggested donation of $1). It’s designed as an employment opportunity for the homeless. He said when he first started doing it, he was making $100 per day, but now it’s about $40-50 per day. He said he believes in an honest man’s wage, which is why he thinks Street Sense is a good opportunity. I was chatting with him about different things and he commented that government is messed up and that his biggest frustration with government is what they’re not doing for homelessness.  But, instead of just asking the government for a handout, Carl is working… and he said he is studying computer science in school (and jokingly said he was doing it so he would know how to go online and transfer money into his back account from other countries).  But he reassured me he really wouldn’t do that (Don’t worry, Carl, I know you wouldn’t).

When I asked him about the fact that most assume people choose homelessness… he said that’s true for about 40% who just use whatever money they collect to go buy drugs or alcohol and aren’t really trying to get out. But, he reminded me that there are all types of people who are homeless, who are there for different reasons and have to work hard to move forward. But Carl said even after he finishes his school program, he’ll still try to continue to sell Street Sense b/c he likes meeting and talking with people. I have to say, he was a very friendly guy – and surprisingly positive – more than a lot of people I talk to (who make more money than him). We also chatted about our faith and how he gains strength from God to keep trying. Carl, thanks for your passion for life and your inspiration. I’ll check back with Carl in the future and let y’all know how he’s doing.

So, what do y’all think? I have to admit, since I’m asked for money ALL the time when I’m walking through downtown, it’s a habit to say no thanks and just walk by (otherwise, I’d be broke)… And actually, I think that’s why I went to talk to Carl… he didn’t ask… I walked by and he was holding the papers but he wasn’t screaming out “Help the homeless, buy Street Sense” like most do.  But, it’s good to remember they are real people just trying to make the best of a challenging situation. And, sure, there are those who take advantage of the system… but that’s true of business, politics, or almost any system. I just find it amusing how often that, out of habit, we tend to only talk to those in the same category of life as us… and it’s fun to venture out occasionally… Anyway, please post comments and join the conversation. And, if you’re ever at 19th & K NW, stop and say hello to Carl if you see him 🙂

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Written by theconversationguy

October 19, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Moody, this is such a great idea for a blog. It’s so “un-Washington,” which makes it very intriguing. I’ll be checking in often.

    Rich Bradley

    October 19, 2009 at 9:05 pm

  2. Moody – God bless you. The world needs more people like you. I am going to make a better effort to notice those around me.

    Monica Youngling

    October 19, 2009 at 10:38 pm

  3. Hello! I found you via Tony Woodlief’s blog. I find it difficult to initiate face-to-face conversations, so reading what you’re writing is inspiring me and helping me try to say more than my usual “hello.” I enjoyed reading about your chat with Carl, and what you will write in the future! Welcome to the blog world! 🙂

    Tracy Milstead

    October 20, 2009 at 5:41 pm


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