© Scott Thode

In 1988 I was coming out of the Lexington Avenue subway at 77th Street, and I looked to my left and there was this woman sitting on a carpet panhandling.

She had this old sort of Persian looking type of carpet, a small one, and I thought she looked interesting. To work myself up to approaching her, I walked around the block and then I walked around the block again.

And then the second time I came around, I heard this voice saying, "Well, don't say hi." It was her.

So she made the introduction, I didn't.

We sat down and talked and I said that I wanted to do a story on somebody who is living on the street with HIV. She looked at me and her eyes kind of welled up with tears.

She said "Does it show?"

And that's when I knew.

- Scott Thode