Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hungry, Homeless, and Traveling—Measurements of Wealth

Last night as I entered the subway at William Street, there was a homeless young man sitting at the bottom of the stairs with a docile, friendly puppy of perhaps the Lab family. (I'm not particularly good with dog breeds on sight.) His cardboard sign read, "Hungry, Homeless & Traveling. Folks please help." As usual, most people streamed on by, but as I descended the stairs I overheard an interesting proposition.

Man in Business Suit (MBS): [Addressing dog; ignoring owner] Hey there, pup!

Dog licks hand.

MBS: Oh, you're a good boy!

MBS looks at Homeless Man (HM): You down on your luck, buddy?

HM: Times are tough, man. Brady and I are trying to make our way to [garbled town name.]

MBS: He's a good boy. I'll give you $50.00 for him.

HM: [Puts hand on Brady]. No thanks. He and I are going to make it just fine.
MBS shrugged and walked away. I stopped and emptied out the change from the bottom of my bag into cup near Brady. It wasn't much, but loyalty should be rewarded in any way possible.

We said nothing to each other. I looked back after swiping my metrocard and passing through the turnstile—his hand was still on Brady's head.

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