On the Train – 3

Washington, D.C.
2/8/2011

Union Station. Just like the many Metro stops in the city, the grandeur of its layout reminds me of that luxurious sense of space I felt the last time I spent a weekend in DC. My friend Hammer was on his way to pick me up, and following a moment to capture this sense of space, my peaceful appreciation of the station was interrupted by a homeless man who sat next to me. He looked at me with cold eyes and spoke at me with a warm voice until I turned to acknowledge him. My brother warned me about these types; it was just odd I would have to heed his advice so soon after leaving Brooklyn.

Despite my obvious aversion to eye contact, he continued the conversation. He spoke of hitchhiking from Florida to dispute the lack of recovery efforts being made to support the growing number of homeless veterans in the country. Underneath it all, he was planting seeds of guilt and sympathy in me. If he knew I was unemployed, perhaps he would not have led me on so much. “Are you a veteran?” He asked me, but we both knew the answer before I said anything. “Us veterans, we got to help each other out.” I did not feel like helping him out, unfortunately, and welcomed the text message from my good friend Hammer, telling me he was outside. I picked up my bags, wished him well, as well as I could, and left that awkward air for good.