New York State of Mind

Posted: December 11, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Growing up in New York, you become desensitized to people asking for money. I ride the train everyday, several times and several different lines.


I can point out people that are asking for money on different subway lines. I’ve seen the same people ,day in and day out, ask for money…for almost ten years. Since I was in highshool and started taking the trains, I cross path with the very same people.

One incident that stands out. I used to attend Hunter College. The station that was directly in front of the college I would pass a lady every morning. She would “sit” there with her cup displayed and her head bowed. From her appearance,  she looked like she had a leg amputated(from the way she arranged her skirts one leg showed one didn’t).  I never thought anything foul of it. To me, it was just sad and sometimes I would sometimes toss the change I received after buying coffee.


Not the lady I'm talking about. But this lady was on the news. Turns out, was a young girl in her 20's. When she gets out of the area she works, she walks upright. Takes the top layer of clothes off and gets in a car and drives to a nice area.

I had a normal morning /after noon schedule while in that college. Sometimes, I would stay a little extra doing this and that. But,  I never stayed too late.

She was always there when I left in the afternoon/early evening.  Same position.  Sitting. Head bowed. Silent.

One day, I attended a late event nearby the college. The closest trian happened to be the station in front the college. I remember skipping down the stairs with a slight buzz and ears ringing from a night filled with laughter. As I was nearing the end of the staircase, I seen the form of this lady. My smiled faded from my face and my steps slowed. It was so late and she’s still here?

Right in front of me, she got up. She had two legs. She walked without alignment.  As she quickly walked passed me she tossed a smallback stuffed with bills and change over her shoulder.

Since then,  I have not given money to people on the street.

I offer food/water if I have on me . Most turn it down. That’s how you know, a lot of people begging for money have ulterior motives. You’re saying” can you spare change for food ” and I’m offering you sealed/unopened /uneaten food and you decline?


There was a video floating around Facebook making fun or people asking for money on the train. As soon as one solicitor  left the train, another boarded. Each person more outrageous then the previous. It was hilarious to us new yorkers because that’s what we see,  day in and day out.

When I leave work on time , I see two young children maybe five and eight years old. They carry boxes of snacks and they rake in the money. Most people look at two young kids alone on the train and go awe, and our imagination of horror stories go wild in our head and we open our wallets and buy welches grape snacks when we hate the flavor grape. Bleeding hearts we are.  To the untrained eye, it’s two young kids alone on a big scary train.

But to the person that takes the same train everyday, I see the father enter the train from different doors and stand at the end of the cart. I see them get off the next stop,  and enter the next cart through separate doors.

It’s a hustle.


That’s what we see everyday. People hustling.

That’s why New Yorkers become jaded.


Then today, something happened.I was on the train with my group on an outing.

A man walks onto the train, smiling.

He doesn’t say a word. He’s holding a violin.

Without a word,  he began playing.

He played Christmas songs, beautifully so. 

When we finished playing, he bowed his head and held his hat out and I gave him a dollar.

My clients asked me why I gave him money. I told them I liked the music.

For the rest of the train ride,  I was reflective on why I chose to give this guy money.

I think because there was no show, no gimmick.  He just played. He did give a sob story. He didn’t try to convice us he’s trying to stay off the streets. He didnr tell us they need money for basket uniforms.

He just played.

And that’s New York. The City that never sleeps. If the desire so fits, you can hop a train and set off on exploration.   Just cause.


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