Lucky Post 13
This is a thing that happened to me about a week ago. I’ve been mulling it over for a while and trying to wrap my mind around it. But it doesn’t need any mulling over.
In New York, panhandlers are always coming up to you. Every walk to the subway, chances are someone will ask you for money. You become conditioned to ignoring it. Perfect the five-yard stare and just walk on by. New Yorkers become connoisseurs of beggars, used to every come-on, all the scams. One game to play at the bar is comparing the most miserable sob stories you’ve heard.
I’m smoking a cig, and I can tell that this guy coming up to me is going to ask me for money. I can tell by the look in his eye –he’s kind of sizing me up, but also got his best smile going. He’s black and dressed pretty shabby. Starts off with the soft sell.
“Hey man, got another cigarette?”
Of course I do. Hand it to him. He lights it. Then he continues with the sell.
“Man, I can tell you raised good.”
Yeah, he’s pro. Knows the game.
“Yeah, I can tell you’re kind. Not a prick like those other guys who just ignore a black man asking them for shit.”
It kinda goes on like this. I make brief replies. “Yeah. Huh. Aw.” After all, he’s not really looking for conversation.
He moves into phase two, the sob story.
“I just got out of prison. I was not a good person. I mugged people, beat them up. But I got stabbed in prison. Now, I’m trying to turn my life around.”
Here, he takes out his prison ID and shows it to me.
“But shit. The shelter I’m staying at costs $30 a night. And the white bitch who runs it closes the doors at 10:00. So I got to catch a subway up there right now. Man, I’ve got a buck fifty.”
“I ain’t asking for thirty bucks. Whatever you got is good. Just like, ten bucks.”
Holy shit, this guy is balsy.
I ended up giving him a buck, which I’m sure is a lot more than he usually gets, but he acted offended as he took it.
Anyway, classic technique, and it worked perfectly on me, the liberal sucker that he knew I was from the beginning.
Listening to: The Pogues -- Sally MacLennane