Word Count – 540
Lady, I admire your gumption.
You were not the only beggar in the station that day, but you were certainly the one driving the hardest bargin. I’ll be honest, I was a bit taken aback when you first posed the question to me. I even made a motion towards my wallet, which I’m sure you saw. I imagined for a moment that I was actually wealthy and crazy enough to afford such an expense, before suddenly realizing that, in fact, I was not. Quickly putting my hands back to my side, I politely told you no, but it was said in a way that it had never been said before and has yet to be said again. Gone were the usual lies and apathetic tones detracting me from the person propositioning me. For once, I did not have what you were asking for, and I desperately wished that I did.
There have been countless times when other homeless people have asked me for “a dollar” or “anything you can give me”, but you, stern and defiant, were sure of yourself and dropped all the formalities. A dollar was not going to help you. You were covered in a filth that dollar store soap was not going to fix, so why bother asking for something that is not going to fix the problem? Homeless people don’t need loose change, they need cold hard cash for first and last months rent. They need at least three grand to even begin getting their shit together.
It had never dawned on me how right your were to approach me in the way you did. I admire a staunch realist who sticks to their ideals in a crisis. One has to assume you did the math in your head, and concluded that it was worth the time and effort to ask the same number of people for three thousand dollars than it was to ask them all simply for one. Surely a massive portion of them were going to ignore you outright, but on the off chance that just one eccentric millionaire was riding the subway that day and took a shine to your spunky negotiation skills, boom, you’re all set!
Your condition reminds me of the desperate middle aged men in clubs and bars all across the country who ask every woman they meet to have sex with them. Even if 99% of them scream “rape!” and run away, every so often they beat the odds and trick some poor woman into copulating with their sad, delusional bodies. If you have anything close to the success rate and the tenacity that these men show, I’m sure you’ve since met your goal and are no longer the Shelley “The Machine” Levene of public transportation.
I will never claim to know what it is like to be homeless and at the end of my rope, but I would like to think that if life handed me the shitty end of the same stick you held, I would do as you did and play the odds. You never know when you might meet someone as crazy as you.
– J.D. Renaud