There are some people who frequent the subway shuttle between Grand Central and Time Square in New York City and I see them on my way home from work almost every day. Most of them are on the first or last car, as the shuttle only has two destinations, people tend to go to the one on the farthest end to make the dash to catch the next connection that much quicker.
Here are a few that I see the most…
Good afternoon ladies and gentleman, my name is Razel…
I hope I got his name right. This is a man who claims to be a Vietnam veteran helping the homeless. Razel adds that he was in the same situation not too long ago and intends to give back to the community.
Razel who is 6′-6’2″, black, slim and sports a goatee, carries sandwiches, soap and toothpaste for the homeless and requests donations to keep the supply for them.
As a parting note, he routinely adds “a smile won’t cost anything”, probably referring to the frumpy look from most people since this is New York after all.
I’ve seen her a lot of days recently after, perhaps, a brief hiatus lasting a month or so. Or it may be that she was on a different car or may have been taking a break at the time.
I don’t remember exactly when I first saw her, but it may have been at least as far back as last Spring. She claims to be a widow raising two children and in desperate need of financial assistance. The introduction is virtually identical every time I’ve seen her and it consists of her name and dilemma.
Carleen (or is it spelled Karleen?) is around 5′-5’2″, white, medium build and rather neatly dressed. She also used offer her resume to anyone as well, although nowadays she seems to have stopped this altogether.
She says “God bless you” a rather lot and I don’t believe the fervor for the divine was this intense when I first saw her. “Please have a heart” is another common exclamation and I recall one day a man wryly replying “sorry, I lost mine on 9/11” although I don’t believe she heard this.
This post isn’t by any means an attempt to put a negative light on someone who may legitimately need assistance, and I don’t know if she’s really in dire straights or just a creative hustler. But considering there may be children involved I’m curious if anyone knows Carleen and what exactly happened to her family.
The Jesus singer
There’s another man aboard the shuttle I see often, a busker, who plays one string on a six string guitar (rather poorly at that) and whose repertoire consists of “Jesus is blessing me right now…”.
He’s around 5’10”, -5’11”, black, medium build and rather soft-spoken. The man has no elaborate story and often wears a baseball cap in which he also collects money.
He seems to be genuinely aware that his performance isn’t spectacular and the song may be more for self-comfort than anything. Unlike the others, he doesn’t give a name and has no introduction; he just starts playing as the shuttle starts moving.
Although it seems I’ve learned to almost completely tune out these people into the background noise, I think there are times where I’m sufficiently distracted from my own life to just be fascinated enough to absorb the soliloquies once again.