I was riding the L home and a guy got on the train. He began making an announcement to the packed car as soon as the doors closed. “Good evening ladies and gentlemen.” You know any speech that starts like that is a ploy for money. Everyone continues what they are doing, pretending to ignore him but actually listening. He had a loud, nasal voice and balled up his hand suggesting some sort of deformity. “I do not mean to cause offense, but I am a good man trying to make the best of a bad situation.”
Honestly, my heart broke, as it always does underneath my skepticism. The bums here aren’t nearly as good at their speeches as they are in the Big Apple, but this one got me.
If it weren’t for the fact that in the middle of his speech he coughed and under his breath said, “excuse me” in a nearly inaudible tone–a tone that did not match the voice with which he spoke–I might have looked in my bag for an uneaten Kashi bar. Oh, that and the fact that his clothes, bag, shoes, and leather coat all looked decent. I always check the shoes. Those are key. Not that I should be judging anyone…sigh.
About 10 minutes later, after he’d left our car for another, he came back and started the same speech over–word for word–with the same inflection. This time adding an uncontrollable footstomp for dramatic affect. I wanted to say, “dude, you’ve already hit this car. And none of us fell for it. Move on.”
But I kept quiet, nose in my book, as I always do.