A white building sits at an intersection in downtown D.C.
A street corner in downtown D.C. before the pandemic hit. Photo courtesy of Tony Webster // Flickr.

Dealing with COVID-19 — the virus, wearing a mask, social distancing, everything shut down or remote — has destroyed everybody. Even the people on TV are working from home. Children are out of school, not learning. You can’t use the restroom or sit down at restaurants, which is very upsetting.

It’s been really bad for me. Why? I can’t sell my papers downtown. My papers used to be sold instantly during the busy rush of people. The only way I make it work is by selling at the Dupont farmers market on the weekends and otherwise receiving some money through the Street Sense Media app. I’m grateful for the love of those who help me out. But I’m struggling. And I am sure that other vendors are dealing with this, too. Please, to all customers, help out the vendors, we need it.

Wearing a mask is so miserable. I can’t even breathe through it too well. 

Downtown is very empty, a ghost town. Nobody is in the buildings to buy our papers. I miss the friendly “hello,” “good morning,” “good afternoon,” or “good evening.” I miss the smiling faces. And I miss the Monday – Friday rush. From 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. there used to be a flow of energy and of money. And if there wasn’t, some customers used to give an extra donation or buy me breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

It’s affecting everyone. Many people are out of work, having lost their jobs. Some never received their stimulus checks or unemployment checks. It is very upsetting not getting either one. If you lose your job, soon you can’t pay rent or other bills. Some people are receiving checks, but many people in need are not getting that help, which is not fair. Everyone should get some help. 

Being isolated, quarantining for months, is the worst. It was a nightmare at first, when the toilet paper, Lysol wipes, rubbing alcohol, and hand sanitizer were sold out. You couldn’t find that stuff anywhere. Meanwhile, you’re afraid to breathe the air or touch anything. But as this drags on, eating, sleeping, bored, sad, upset, sometimes crying, making no money.

2020 has been terrible. I hope it will get better for everyone. This is history in itself, a year nobody will ever forget. Let us believe things will get better.


Sybil Taylor is an artist and vendor with Street Sense.