You Never Know Who’s Doing What
I knew by the number of people waiting for the crosstown bus that I had time to smoke a cigarette. I stood several feet away from the curb watching a crowd slowly gather by the bus stop. I marveled at how everybody seemed to think they would be the first to board. No line to speak of, just folks angling for position. I could tell some were calculating exactly where they thought the bus would stop. The scene reminded me of a line from the movie Talladega Nights: The Legend Of Ricky Bobby- If you’re not first, you’re last.
My Ipod was playing something that had me in minimum sway-foot tapping mode feeling good about things. I knew I would make it to work on time as this bus never kept me waiting for more than ten minutes. Halfway through my smoke, I felt someone making a bee line towards me. A woman in her late twenties/ early thirties was about to ask me something. I don’t think she noticed my ear buds because she began speaking before I could take them out to see what she wanted. “Can you help me? I’m just trying to feed my kids.”
This was a coin I was somewhat familiar with both sides of. Living in New York for almost 30 years, I have come across many a person either down on their luck or running a scam. After a few years of coming up with some coins for whoever asked I came to realize that some people figured out that if you ask enough people for money, you can survive. I’m pretty sure McDonald’s doesn’t hire doormen, but there they are happily opening the door for you in hopes of a tip. Some will go so far as to hold an empty McDonald’s bag out, so you have somewhere to put the money. I’ve seen more than a few handmade signs with life stories scribbled on cardboard, usually 10 words or less.