Top Story: The new face of homelessness

Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

“Being homeless doesn’t have to suck.” — Tim Dietz
stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net

He shows up to work every day, but you won’t find Tim Dietz on the payroll at Smith, Reinholt & Sons. That’s because he’s part of a growing population of corporate-savvy homeless people living in the Dulles Technology Corridor in Northern Virginia.

“It seemed like everyone knew Timmy,” claims Sheila Elliot, former manager of Marketing at the prestigious accounting firm. “He was always there when the catering arrived, and he always seemed so positive and happy to be at work. In hindsight, I should have been more suspicious.”

When police arrested Tim for trespassing and misdemeanor theft after an anonymous tip, workers at the firm were stunned.

“We were stunned,” states Bob, who works in the Human Resources department. “In retrospect, I shouldn’t have asked him to give that presentation on teamwork at the company picnic. But to his credit, he nailed it. Productivity went up .024% that week, and I’m convinced we owe it to him. Getting the CEO to do the ‘trust fall’ with him up on the stage was sheer genius.”

Following his release on bail, Mr. Dietz agreed to tell us how he survived so easily and for so long without charity or government assistance.

“Mainly I just wandered between the various floors looking for catering or leftovers from potlucks,” he told us, without a trace of guilt. “There was almost always something going on. But even if there wasn’t, every floor had a refrigerator stocked with soft drinks, bagged lunches and condiments. Honestly, I’m glad I got caught—I was putting on too much weight.”

When asked why it took so long to catch him, Tim said, “I always wore clean clothes, which I washed at night in the sink using dish detergent from the kitchens. In-between meals, I’d walk around the building with a clipboard and act like I was busy. When I got tired, I’d head up to the 7th floor where the company added nap rooms  a few years back. I think I was the only one who ever used those nap rooms. I guess people thought if they did they’d get fired.”

We asked him if personal hygiene ever became an issue.

“They had showers in that little gym in the basement, and complimentary soap and a towel service. It was pretty sweet.”

Later, Tim confided that things weren’t always so sweet.

“One weekend, they tested the emergency generator and there was a problem and they didn’t get the power back on until Sunday. I never had any money for movies and stuff, so I’d play World of Warcraft every night on this one guy’s computer. Kind of hard to take down 25-man raid bosses without electricity, isn’t it?”

Today, Tim Dietz is repaying his debt to society with 400 hours of community service: cleaning up trash along the highways for the city.

Ever the optimist, Tim says, “It’s not so bad. When you show up, they feed you breakfast and lunch, and anything cool you find you’re allowed to keep. We only need to act busy when traffic’s heavy, and sometimes people roll down their windows and give us money.  It’s pretty sweet. After my 400 hours are up, I’ll probably keep coming back.”

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