Choosers Can Be Beggars

Most of my Blog seems to be recollections of things that have happened to me years ago, rather than recently. I’m not sure if that’s an indication that I have led a rich life, or if I have recently become a boring person. Oh well. I suppose we go with what works, right?

It was 1992. Our high school hosted a trip to New York for us “higher grade” types. It was a good trip. We managed to pack a lot of things into the short time we were there, and it didn’t really feel as rushed as you would have thought. We managed to even sing “Oh Canada” on the Liberty Island ferry. I started us in a rousing take of our national anthem in response to a query about where we were from, and thought I would get killed. But it all turned out all right.

The part of this story that is cleverly highlighted by the title of this Blog is the period in which I broke off from our group (Led by our tour guide, who was inconspicuously dressed in bright red, waving a bright red umbrella around) to wander for a couple of hours. I walked quite a distance, passing lots of interesting shops and restaurants, as well as some strange men in an alley smoking what appeared to be a rodent.

On 5th Avenue (near Trump Tower), I passed a beggar on the street. He was dressed in burlap or something, and was lying down in a sleeping bag in a cardboard box. He asked if I could spare a quarter (and I hadn’t really seen another panhandler in a while, so I gave him a dollar).

His change container was behind him, and as he rolled over to deposit his change, his “garment” opened at the chest slightly, revealing a nice business suit underneath. I felt dirty, and used.

Shortly after, I came upon a woman in an alleyway in a cardboard box. Her arms were like toothpicks, and she had been eating what looked like a very old piece of chicken. I gave her significantly more than the other guy. But I don’t know if she could even get up to use it. No business suit underneath her clothes, to be sure.

I was haunted by her sunken eyes all day. And I felt sick when I thought of the guy on 5th Avenue, who probably had a job, and was making some extra cash at lunch.