August 31st 2012
Story originally written and experienced: September 14th 2011
“The Next Uptown 6 Local Train To- Pelham Bay Park Will Arrive In: – 2 – Minutes.”
The robotic voice in the subway station echoed as
Charlie and I waited
patiently on the
<<< “A Pelham Bay Park Bound, 6 Local Train Is: Approaching The Station.”
The train stopped.
The doors opened
And we stepped in
To the refreshing breeze that cooled the exhaustion we wore on our skin.
We took a seat on the right side of the train
ready to fill the commute with mindless chats and sporadic people watching.
And as a standard routine, each person shuffling on and off of the subway fit into one of the following categories:
1. The distressed mother with 2-5 kids hanging off her every limb.
2. The contemplative artist, indulged in his music and resting in the soles of his favorite, worn down shoes.
3. The fashionista. Dressed to perfection in her thoughtfully crafted attire, lingering in a perfect cloud of sweet perfume.
4. The exhausted father and husband laying his eyes to rest against the refreshingly cold subway railing.
5. The impoverished folk, groveling for just the remnants of your pastry purchase that very morning…They’re so annoying aren’t they? Don’t want anything but to take your money. Your hard.earned.money. I bet half the things they say aren’t true. You have HIV, Aids and 8 broken legs? Really? Really?
We had traveled approximately 30 blocks from our distant location, each set of blocks inviting a new fleet of characters in exchange for a seat.
3 stops later a homeless man wheeled a rusty shopping cart onto the train. There were no children hanging on his limbs, his shoes were barely threaded together, his scent was less…than pleasant…and he was very clearly a lone ranger, with no loved ones to speak of. Every item in his cart was caked with a layer of dirt. His clothes were frayed at every edge, his hands, an end product of scraping for food, his crooked spine, evidence of the pavement he laid to rest on every. night. And of course, as a standard part of his uniform, a cup in his hand, housing the pitied earnings he had collected that very day.
He sat to the left.
And as each stop passed everyone obeyed the social standards and sat on the
3 stops later, a small child s-t-e-p-p-e-d onto the train. He was holding a frail box of candy bars, dressed in a greasy striped shirt with unwashed hair dangling slightly below his ears. His face was angelic, but his intentions were clear. He gripped onto the box and began
p c n
a i g the train reciting this speech:
“Good afternoon ladies and gentleman. Mah name is Ricardo. I’m poor, I’m hung-ary, and my family cannot feed me. Puhlease. I’m selling these candy bars and skittles and if you would like to buy them I would great-a ley appreciate it. Thank you, have a nice day, and God Bless.”
Yeah yeah yeah, Ricardo.
As Ricardo made his way down the subway cart. >>>>
Each >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Passing>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Body
>> shifted uncomfortably, stating they had no change, that they were sorry, the classic eye roll, they put their head
n, iPods were at FULL volume and I watched as the disease of ignorance infected everyone in Ricardo’s path,
Defeated yet unsurprised by his earnings, Ricardo reached the end of his path, gripped onto the subway railing and placed the heavy, and full, box of candy on the floor, waiting to exit at the following stop.
There came a voice. <<<<<<<<<<<< from the other side of the subway. And it said.
“Young man. Come here”
It was the homeless man in the far corner.
Ricardo picked uP his box and carefully
<<<<<< walked over to the unwashed man and turned
to stand directly
in front of him
The homeless man asked for the boy’s cup, gripping his own in his hand. Scared. Ricardo obeyed. And handed the homeless man his meager accomplishments for the day. The homeless man gently retrieved the cup from the boy’s hand and
d every.single.cent. out of his own cup and
And then he said:
“I’d love to buy your candy. Skittles, please.”
And Charlie too. And everyone else on the
And not like the “few tears streaming down my face” wept. But like the “I’m going all out because that shit was beautiful” wept. And
everyone did have change.
And turns out their eyes could look beyond the ground
And iPods were resting in a soft bed of raveled headphones
And now, candy sounded pretty.damn.good:
“I want a snickers!”
“3 M&Ms please!”
“Ricardo! Over here! 2 twix!”
Surprised and grateful for this unexpected profit, Ricardo bOUnced off they train, his cup filled to the brim, and never looked back once.
And the homeless man in the corner?
He sat there with his freshly emptied cup, a bag of skittles and and a smile on his face.
Some people walked over to the right side of the train to the left, offering the homeless man their new discovered earnings. And the homeless man sat there perplexed but only accepting a quarter here and there, but never asking, not once. The next stop was his and even though he knew this subway cart was now a goldmine,
He. walked. right off. >>>>