Poured Out

Turnstiles at New York subway stop at 74th station and Roosevelt.

It was his first day on his new job. He wasn’t very good at it.

He always saw himself as an entrepreneur. The business owner. The man who made it happen. Bringing in bank. Making a killing.

This was his first attempt at his own business. He expected a slam dunk. He’d seen others do this work, and they were much less articulate, less attractive and even less orderly than him. They seemed to do okay. He’d do much better.

He stood in the upper level of the subway platform with his khaki flavored jeans, a long sleeved polo and his boat shoes. His brown bangs swept a bit to the side, his lanky seventy-four inches posted up like a beacon.

“Do you have a dollar? Four quarters?”

People looked at him. They thought that he needed a dollar to get on the train, but that wasn’t what he was asking for.

He looked at the people passing by, heading most likely home after a day at museums and festivals and maybe an afternoon tipple. It was Saturday. Nobody was stopping. Nobody even looked at him. No hands went from their pockets to his outstretched hands.

He’d been at this for almost forty-five minutes, and he wasn’t getting any money. He was losing his patience. He stamped his right foot.

“I can’t believe this,” he said, mostly out loud. He directed his frustration to the oncoming passengers by stomping his right foot again and raising both the volume and the pitch of his voice.

“Do you have a dollar? I’m HOME-LESS,” he bleated. He dragged the word homeless out. It sounded whiny and embittered.  He looked like a bro who couldn’t find his frat or someone who was doing a social experiment for his psychology class. People didn’t mark him as needy.

He figured he could make $20-30 in two hours. He saw people putting money in a bum’s cup. The guy didn’t grasp that people commuting on the train to or from downtown were not opening their pocketbooks for every homeless person they encountered.

Some, like him, never give. Some always give. Some give when it’s cold, when someone has a child with them, when someone looks like they need to go to the hospital or whatever tips their generosity scales. There had to be a connection. He wasn’t connecting.

As more people walked by, the guy was getting more resentful. He had been kicked out by his roommates just five weeks into the semester. It was his temper they said. And his awful mouth when he drank. But they all partied and so when things got broken he didn’t understand why they expected him to replace everything. And they were all trying to get laid so he wasn’t any different from them, no matter how that bitch lied. Whatever happened to bros before hoes?

His roommates let him leave his stuff until he found a place. The second night in the park was less of the adventure and more of a drag than the first. And he missed class yesterday and today. But he only had to scrape enough dollars for a bed under a roof for a week. There’d be money in his account at the beginning of the month. Craigslist was the move. Someone always needed a roommate.

This panhandling wasn’t working out. He had forty-six cents. He still had money on his subway card and a few bucks in a pocket. He’d go back to campus and take a shower at the gym. Maybe he could sleep there. He figured he’d stop at the corner store. He had enough for a small bottle. If not, he could sell a few cigarettes to the real bums.

43 thoughts on “Poured Out

  1. well done! it has you cringe at ever passing by people like this yet drags out some sympathy and calls for understanding that addiction controls one in ways they are not aware of or perceive as natural behaviour. often making them feel like they are the victim to responses generated from their ill behaviour. the result; more senseless behaviour giving way to a downward spiral of self victimization. wants you to believe in a better outcome. keep up the good work.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This guy in riddled with the entitlement and lack of empathy that is pandemic in our society. He obviously needs help but not the help that he thinks he needs. Great story. Brief yet overflowing with substance.

    Liked by 4 people

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