There was a woman with a baby asking for money on the subway this morning. She seemed to be muttering to herself, and I wouldn’t have noticed her if not for the indecipherable noises she uttered as she walked past. She held up a cardboard sign that said she had just lost her job. She stared at me with pleading eyes, and I gave her nothing. I smiled apologetically, trying to communicate that I had no cash, and she walked on, and I returned to my book as if nothing had happened.
But something had happened.
A young mother with a tiny baby needed money so badly that she was begging for it on the subway. And I could have given her my phone number. Or my email address. And I didn’t.
I hope I never cease to be affected by these scenes. I hope I never cease to he ashamed of my inaction.
“What can I do? There’s nothing I can do.” There’s always something you can do. “But even if I found a way to help her, there would still be millions of needy people throughout the world I couldn’t help. I can’t help everyone.” But she is here now. You can’t help everyone, but you can help her. “I don’t know how.” I don’t either.
That’s usually how it ends. Utter defeat through lack of know-how.
This day ended no differently. And yet…
I thought of her on Christopher St. And Hudson St. And Morton St. And Clarkson St. And all f’in day long.
And then I went to Chipotle where I was smacked in the face by George Saunders. The full text of the face-smacking can be found here.
It’s best if read in its entirety, but I’ve pasted together the most relevant pieces for you below:
Amazing to think that I am here in my time and you, future reader, are there in your (future) time, reading this! By the time you read this, I may be in grave (!). Maybe you, in your future clothing, can drive your jet car to my grave, hover over grave, think fondly of time you read these words, leave weird cloned flowers, go scooting back to own life. But beware: you too, future reader, will someday be in grave. All, in time, will be in graves. Unless you, in future time, have defeated death. If so, please revive me (!). Also revive Kate (wife) and kids (Sally, Kip)…
My boss just came, asked what I was writing. EnderCO report? Ha. No.
Note to future generations: Still have “bosses”? Bosses still intrusive?…People still get fired in future? Even person with new baby? Hope not.
WTF? What is the universe trying to tell me?!
I don’t know. But I plan to find out.
Streets Walked: Clarkson St. to West Side Highway to 10th Ave. to 52nd St. to West Side Highway to 55th St. to 8th Ave. to Central Park West to 110th St. to Manhattan Ave. to Morningside Ave. to 118th St. to Home