The Starbucks near Dupont Circle is a daily sight for Robert Williams.
credit: Ted Eytan/Flickr

Lila! First of all, hello to you my little miniature princess who scoots excellently past Starbucks at 18th and N Streets every day. It’s always a pleasure to see you. I try to wait and watch as you scoot across to daycare or school. Perhaps, one day, do you think you can teach me to ride a scooter as well as you?
You­­—and your parents—are very smart and intelligent. I know your parents are very proud of you. You al-ready attend events and participate in advocacy with them. Keep your eyes open through life, be obedient to your parents and always continue to listen and learn.
Shout out to you little princess! I have to thank you. The first time I met you, my spirits were down and you and your authentic smile lifted them and made me smile too.
Hello to my big little guys and other little princesses who pass by, smile, and have conversations or just wave to me too. I’ll keep making dollar bills amazingly come from behind your ears or pigtails if you all keep doing well in school! Great job to my miniature buddies who in the evenings have accepted the job of ensuring that the grownups make it home.
It is uplifting to have your smile returned. Though smiles and yawns are generally known to be contagious, persons thought to be unstably housed or homeless often don’t experience this.
At least not from most adults, who should be setting the example for all these young people. Fortunately, I have a lot of faithful readers who break that stereotype. Thank you for treating us as people.
Daily, I frequent that Starbucks. The staff has changed in the last six months, yet they remain the most professional, courteous, customer-conscious and generally caring people. Unlike most institutions, they realize that homeless are people too. I encourage you to stop in and say hello to Eden, Mariah and the rest of the wonderful crew there.
Nando’s is another must-stop at 18th in the middle of M and N Streets NW. Another service institution with re-al people, and good management. You’re greeted at the door by some of the best greeters in the city, Destiny and Nae. The cashiers, the cooks and the guys on the grill are awesome too. Say hello to Rasheeda, Kierra, Jaelynn and Steven when you stop in to enjoy some great food.
And if you ever need a seat, just look for me. Everyone usually leaves a few seats between them and housing-insecure people.
Street Sense vendors are people too. And we are not panhandlers, we are working. That being said, panhandlers are people too. Panhandling is not illegal, and they are deserving of the same respect you receive and give. They have the same entitlement to the Bill of Rights and Constitution, don’t you think?
If so, begin to lift your voice in their defense. Greet a homeless person today. Greet a Street Sense vendor. Have you wished Shernell Thomas Happy Birthday yet?