Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On the Subway

I was on the E train heading into the city about a week or so ago. A man came into the car holding an empty paper cup. Old black guy, bushy gray afro, beard, overcoat and only 2 teeth on the bottom row.
He started calling out, wailing "a quarter, can someone please give me a quarter...just one quarter" Sad, very plaintive and no one was paying attention. There were a few people with babies and kids in strollers. He started talking to them. This made some folks uncomfortable and others just ignored it. In between he kept asking for a quarter. I was seated next to the door but it was kind of blocked. I looked in my bag and dug out a few quarters..
As he got closer I held them out and tossed them in his cup so they would jangle.

"Thank you" he said.
"God bless you.
"God bless your family"

He started to take a step forward, then took a deliberate step back.
He looked me in the eye.
"And...Happy Birthday!"

He delighted in the expression of pleasant surprise on my face in reaction. When it came down to it, he really just wanted to be acknowledged, some human interaction.
We connected (and I thanked him)

And there was now this twinkle in his eye as he said that, which replaced the look and sound of desperation from just a moment or two ago.

It was a beautiful moment.


Blogger Donn w/2 Ns said...

Instant karma gonna get you!
John Lennon

Isn't it a pity
Now, isn't it a shame
How we break each other's hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other's love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity

George Harrison

9:44 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Annie,

I found your blog via Vicariously Chris.I really like your blog, and the way in which you write and "feel" things.
Are you going to be continuing to update here? If so, I will bookmark it.
Have a good day!!

5:23 AM  
Blogger Annie Van Bergen said...

Donn...oh boy are you saying the right thing to the right person.

Laura...thanks for your kind words, I have been posting very sporadically but check in any time..you have a good day too!

2:52 PM  

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