Saturday, June 18, 2011

Subway Story ll- Redemption

Anyone who ever spent time in the NYC subway, at least in the latter half of the last century knew what it's like to have people coming into the subway cars on a regular, if not daily basis, begging, pleading, scamming for whatever coins would come their way. Mostly it was a standard, perfunctory pitch, although it could degrade into a delivery straight from a drunken, misspelled play book. The hook, nevertheless, was always the same- I need money to help me over this once in a lifetime crisis in which I was totally blameless and could not possibly foresee, so I can get back on my feet and return to my previous life of spending whatever money I had getting wasted. They always left out the last part, of course- the audience always filled it in.

One afternoon, a neatly dressed man in his early thirties entered and began his soliloquy. I rolled my eyes and lowered my head on cue, and he began to recount how years previous he had often begged for change in the subway- and now simply wanted to thank everyone who ever gave, or simply tolerated him. And to thank everyone, he would now recite "Thank You" in 100 different languages. Well, this most definitely perked up my ears- what manner of theatre was this?

As I sat there disbelieving, he then proceeded to do just that. I couldn't verify the exact number, nor recognize each and every single language, but I do know that each "Thank You" uttered in a foreign tongue was spoken clearly, distinctly... sincerely. This was a heartfelt proclamation, a statement of redemption where the joy was palpable, and real as it ever gets. And up until the very end, some part of the jaded, cynical New Yorker that I am awaited the pitch that would no doubt follow. His final thank you over, he smiled and quietly strode to a repeat performance in the next car- leaving no doubt whatsoever who had given on that day. 

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