Getting off the subway and heading into Grand Central this morning, encountered a guy sitting on a milk crate. “I’m homeless and unemployed right now and I could really use your help. I’m homeless and unemployed right now and I could really use your help.” Same words, same delivery each time. I stop to refill my Metrocard. Subway passengers disappear into Grand Central. Guy goes silent. New crowd of people surges out of Grand Central headed for subway. Guy starts up. “I could really use a bagel! Hey, anyone help me out to get a bagel? I could really use a bagel! Hey, anyone help me out to get a bagel?” I turn, wondering what accounts for this sudden change in text and mood. Can’t tell, but I think it’s funny so I give him a buck. I head into Grand Central through the doors the subway-bound crowd is coming out of. Then I get it: right on the other side of that door is the hot bagel place. The crowd going in that direction will have just passed those yummy hot-bread smells when he hits them up for money for a bagel. The crowd going in the other direction will be tourists or commuters, more likely to take pity on an unemployed guy. A good performer knows his audience. I love New York.
(Don’t forget the contest!)