An aerial view of Washington D.C

There have been times when I have felt small because I was homeless.

In the city where I was homeless, a security officer followed me when I was in the store — I believe it was the feeling that I might steal something. At a movie theatre, I was told I could not buy a ticket because I had bags with me. One of the most startling things to happen was that a passerby simply spit at me. At least he spit near me and I had a canvas bag with me.

Even now, when I have housing, I can feel belittled and hurt by the responses of people at times. They can see my bag with papers in it and I think they believe I am homeless. Or maybe they know that I sell a street newspaper. Store clerks offer to help me probably hoping to rush me out of the store. At other times, it seems like people look for a seat somewhere else on the bus and appear to prefer not to sit beside me because they see a bag full of something.

Of course, with all the terrorism, although not really a lot in this country, people could just be afraid of me. They see me periodically, though, on the same bus line, and the clerks see me fairly often at the same store.

Most people, though, are decent in most places and situations. We should learn to accept each other. Doing so would make for a better country.


Gwynette Smith is a Street Sense vendor and contributor.