Danny’s day


When I wake up in the morning I shower, dress, go downstairs to make some coffee, and read the newspaper.

Thirty minutes or so later, I have a small breakfast before leaving to drop my son off at school before going to work.

This is a typical day for me, just as I assume it is for most of you.

But this is not how the day starts for 23-year-old Danny.

He is a homeless young man whom I met on a cold St. Patrick’s Day morning.  He was living in what he called his “mobile condo” (a small wood box on wheels) at the corner of Franklin and State in downtown Olympia.

I asked if I could photograph him as I am a documentary photographer working to keep the issue of the epidemic of homelessness in the public eye.

“Sure, why not?”

He told me about growing up in a series of foster homes before being told to leave when he turned 18 and that for the past five years, he had been homeless.

With his misfitting boots, matted hair, tired eyes, tattered clothing, and dirty hands and face – to say nothing of the jumble of clothing and lumber surrounding his home on wheels – I believed him.

When asked how he came across his possessions, he said that he found them.

I then asked how he fed himself.

“I sometimes get food at the mission or at a food bank,” he replied, “and sometimes people give me money.”

As to his clothing, he wouldn’t say, but he then added that he would not use the facilities at a nearby mission because they were “dirty and dangerous.”

“And the police have told me I have to move to a different city,” he interjected. “Can you believe that?”

Given what I had seen and heard from Danny, no, I don’t think he could make the move.

Not long after, another homeless person stopped by and began talking with Danny.  I decided to leave.

But my thoughts about Danny have not departed.

For most of us, tomorrow morning will be some variation of shower, dress, coffee, newspaper, breakfast, and off to work.

But this will not be how Danny starts his day, and I wonder how any of us can sleep well at night knowing this.