Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Agony & The Ecstasy

I had one of those "Only in New York" (for better and for worse) subway rides home.

Before I boarded the train, I saw one the most pathetic homeless people I have seen in years. No surprise here: New York is full of homeless people again. They are everywhere. They are younger and whiter. There are more females. And they are in really bad shape. It is awful. The line at the soup kitchen on my corner gets longer every day. I would guess this woman I saw today was in her late sixties. She was small of stature, but her legs were swollen to what must have been twice their regular size and they were also covered with sores. Even if she had shoes, she couldn't have worn them. She had just given up, plopped herself down on a terrifically busy subway platform, with what must have been every single one of her possessions in at least six different plastic shopping bags. I stopped to give her money and a woman standing behind her told me she had called the police. I didn't know what else to do. Every time I see a person like this I think, "This is someone's baby".

Later on the train, I sat next to a guy who had tattoos of text running up and down both inner forearms. I was trying to read it out of the corner of my eye during the entire ride, but the type size was just too small. Just before my stop, I finally said, "May I ask you what you have tattooed on your arms?" and he said, "The Rights of Man". Well, I assume he meant a passage from "The Rights of Man", owing to limited space, but in any case, how cool is that?

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