English actor and comedian Stephen Fry once said “You are who you are when nobody’s watching.” Unfortunately for those in the city of Washington D.C. watching just so happens to be the hobby of Jacqueline Turner.
“People fascinate me,” says Turner, a two year veteran Street Sense vendor, adding that no two are the same. While selling the paper or taking a rest on the busy streets of the nation’s capital, Turner enjoys studying the idiosyncrasies and habits of those passing her by.
In addition to people watching, Turner’s second hobby is trying to make people laugh with a deployment of “funnies” as she calls them.
“I get pleasure out of it,” said the amateur comedian who came to Street Sense through a referral from another vendor.“ It makes me feel good.”
When asked who is the one person she would have dinner with, alive or deceased, she initially said President Obama, before changing to Hannibal, the ancient Punic military commander.
“I don’t know,” she laughs when asked why. “I guess I want to know what he was thinking.” But then minutes later she changes her answer again. This time to Jean Harlow, an American actress and 1930’s sex symbol. What lies in this revolving door of choices gives insight into Turner’s life.
Turner came to D.C. as a child after being born in Virginia and raised on the East Coast. Her parents embodied the blue-collar spirit of a working class family with her father employed as a mechanic and car salesman and her mother a cashier at a dry cleaners. By Turner’s recollection, her parents never missed a day of work. Turner on the other hand has had a little more trouble finding her calling.
High school aptitude tests would tell her to become a psychologist. She dropped out and later received her G.E.D. She also moved to New York City during the 1970s and has been married twice. From there her search for a career began.
She’s worked for park services and the health department, and attended cosmetology secretary, business and nursing schools.
“I haven’t found anything that I like so much,” she says. Her current venture is venipuncture, the science of drawing blood for medical purposes, a career that will give her a lot of interaction with people. She recently passed her 10 week course and is currently looking for three individuals to practice on.
There was one thing she has always wanted to be however, a mother. She became that 40 years ago after the birth of her only daughter.
For now the mother and Street Sense vendor will be working to become whatever interests her at the moment, even if she doesn’t know what that is right now. Because for all the uncertainties that there are in life, Turner has her a motto to get through it all.
“I’m going to live, I’m going to eat and I’m going to sleep,” she says. “And God is going to take care of the rest.”