Homeless on the Subway

A story to go along with this story about a 20 percent increase in homeless people living on the New York City subway.

On Friday morning, I get on the subway followed by a man with beat-up red sneakers, torn clothes, and a ripped bag. He's carrying newspapers and proceeds to try to sell them to the many commuters packed in the train car. When no buys, he yells some obscenity and exits the train.

Another man gets on wearing a sweatshirt the color of dirt and raggedy old pants. He walks thru the car asking for change, but no one gives. When he gets to the opposite end, he decides to perform some sort of Indian-type chant as a song and walks through the car singing loudly while sort of dancing. Still, no one hands over any money.

As he walks through the car, he spots a young woman with her purse on her lap. He approaches and says something untoward. The man next to her becomes irate and steps in.

"Why don't you leave people alone?" he demands to know. "We're hard-working people going to our jobs and no one here is gonna give you anything for your drug smoking habit."

The homeless man looks shocked and begins to walk away, but then turns back and curses and threatens the man.

"Don't you threaten me," he says. The homeless man keeps walking.

I leave the underground thinking this has been quite a morning when I suddenly hear cars screeching and people shouting. Down from the intersection, another homeless man has walked into the middle of the street in front of fast-approaching vehicles. He's wearing what looks like a plastic bag and holding up his hands in a stopping motion as cars skid to a halt just inches from his body.

One wonders if he really wanted them to stop.

Drivers curse and he moves on, trying to vanish in the crowd but still easy to see.