/scene: Sitting on the subway. Like you do. Enter this guy. Some books in hand. I don't even look up, no one does. And then we hear the familiar "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm sorry to bother you on your ride. I apologize..."
/character: In NYC you have to tune out the noise. And unfortunately, these people the beggars, the people asking for money on the street or the subway become a part of that. We wish we could help everyone and yet, we don't. Well, this guy. Tall. Bearded face. I didn't look up for a while. Though I was facing him. His script wasn't that much different from others I had heard. "I need a little help." "Anything will do." Something in this man's voice though made me so sad. It went straight to my heart. And it wasn't what he said, it was something in there that rang of truth. He had books in his hand, he said he had a college degree. He said he was hungry. I'm terrible about carrying cash, and didn't want to go digging through my purse. But I had cut apple slices in a baggy as a to-go snack. I thought, give them to him. For a second I hesitated, embarrassed that I didn't have more to offer, as if that would really matter. My ego put aside, I looked up and apologized for my small offering which he accepted and looked me right in the eye. "It really helps. Thank you." We exchanged a small smile and a nod. And it made me more sad.
/final thought: What do we do when we can't really do anything? I don't really know his story. I don't know how he ended up where he is. Everyone's lives are so different. And how do we become the person on the subway asking strangers who don't even look up from their laps, staring at phones with no service, blasting music in their ears. What went wrong? Drugs? Lost a job. No family to turn to? Lack of ambition? I think it takes guts to get up and ask for help.
Today I send a happy thought to that guy on the subway.