I tend not to give money to beggars when I’m riding the subway. In my defense I give more than my share outside of the subway, but nothing spoils a New York City subway ride’s mood like some man or woman opening the car door to recite their hard luck story and since I regard my subway in such high esteem I do not want to contribute to its being a fertile market for beggars. Again, I do give my share elsewhere, don’t break my balls – just Thursday night I ventured up to Harlem, targeted a man whom I thought would appreciate it the most and handed him an unopened $13 pack of Newports and a lighter. Blew his mind.
So beggars in the subway, no, unless the story is especially sad and moving, if they’re missing more than one limb maybe, if they convincingly claim that they fought in ‘Nam, got AIDS, that sort of thing – then I might cave. Performers on the other hand, they’re trying to provide a service, and they often (but not always) provide a pretty good one, in good faith fronting their services in hopes that a couple people who were entertained might throw them a little scratch upon the coda of their performance.
I’m okay with that, though if they’re bad, like this old Asian man playing his ancestors’ version of a violin and playing it really badly, I mean it’s really painful to listen to, in that situation I get really angry at the world and disillusioned with the First Amendment. Man I hate that guy. I wish the MTA would do some quality control enforcement on some of these guys. The only thing I’d pay that guy to do is stop or try it in Hong Kong’s subway as for some reason he wouldn’t have any competition there, judging by my recent experience, and you can walk up and down the whole train without having to go through those annoying and often locked car doors. And it’s dead quiet, plus at every station they’ve got the anti-suicide glass in case you have an especially bad day and would prefer in advance that it would be prohibitively difficult to do something dramatic.
I hadn’t had occasion to ride in the same subway car as these guys, but here’s the kind of performance that would open me up to consideration of giving them some cheddar. Found this in the New York Times on my Android phone:
Not my kind of tunes (plus the vocalist was a tad overmodulated) but that’s some ingenuity right there, no? That’s worth something, it has value warranting some reciprocation. On the other hand, if these guys can afford all those iPhones, App Store and the monthly AT&T bills, maybe I should shop around a little harder for a subject of my wealth redistribution.
But not in the subway damnit. Keep it on the sidewalk, preferably one in a wealthier neighborhood than mine.