Friday, October 20, 2006

Awesome K's own double entry

New York City’s feeble attempt to balance the books…

For anyone paying attention to my life the past year in our planet’s capital, you will have noticed that the city owns me quite a lot.

In the past two weeks I have started finding money lying on the various sidewalks near my apartment, it appears that the city is finaly paying me back, be it ever so slowly.

Below you will find the detailed documentation of where how much I am owed:

Amount Date Offence
$1,113.50 Feb 06 Blizzard of ’06 damages (mostly emotional damages)
$1,128.93 Jan 06 Hospital charges for debacle (emotional damages exceed calculation)
$ 400.00 May 06 Hit by a car (ruined clothing, emotional damage, lost day of work)
$ 90.00 July 06 Stolen bike
$ 50.00 Sept 06 Bike tire on new bike stolen
Total owed: $2782.43

Balance carried over: $127 (found on the street during a visit to the city December 2003)
Amount Date Explanation
$ .25 Oct 06 found on doorstep
$ 1.00 Oct 06 found on sidewalk
$ 7.00 Oct 06 found on sidewalk
Total paid: $135.25

Helping out my fellow man

I am all about helping my fellow humans, truly I am a do-gooder by nature. The feeling of seeing a young child’s face light up when you help them overcome a problem is unmatched in its warm fuzziness.

Or so I thought.

Turns out that sometimes you can get that same rush of well being from screwing someone over.

Last night I was dragging the old lady shopping cart (popular with countless urban dwellers residing more than four blocks from a major grocery store). I was enjoying the leisurely stroll when I was nearly knocked over by a guy zipping past me on his bike on the sidewalk. (Please note that it is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk in New York City, as the sidewalks are normally crowded with people, you know, walking). JerkWad then proceeded to hop off his bicycle and park it in the MIDDLE of the sidewalk, a mere feet away from a perfectly suitable bike rack.

I am the sort of person that usually has mildly vengeful thoughts, but never acts on them. So when I saw him do this, my thought was “Wouldn’t it be funny if I just kicked his bike over as I walked by?” Just as quickly, though I thought, “Yeah, but I could never do that..”

Sometimes though there are forces greater than our mere human will. As I walked by his bicycle (taking up 85% of the busy sidewalk) the wheel of my old lady cart caught his tire and knocked his bike to the cold hard cement of truth and righteousness.

I stood there for a second in the serendipity of the moment, deciding if I should sent my cart aside and attempt to pick his bike up (the do-gooder in me still wanting to shine through). I wasn’t allowed much of a chance however, because as soon as he heard his bike crash to the ground he came running: “What the F**K’s your problem!?! Why don’t you watch where you are F** KING going!?!”

It was at this moment that the much pursued feeling of light and warmth took over my body and I smiled and walked away leaving him to scramble to pick up his own bike, calling over my shoulder, “Maybe next time you won’t park your bike in the middle of the sidewalk.”

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Brother can you spare a twenty?

I feel like a bad person sometimes, ok I feel like a bad person about 50% of the time, I think it’s some sort of deep religious guilt thing, but without the religion. I feel guilty almost every time I don’t give money to a panhandler, it a mixed guilt because on one hand I think how in a series of just a few unfortunate events I could be in their place and on the other hand giving money to every panhandler would leave me penniless myself.

What normally relieves the guilt is that you never have to see them again. Their destitute is not constantly shoved in your face, its new fresh destitute each time, and therefore easier to ignore. Except when one of the cities millions of disenchanted keeps the same subway schedule as you.

I don’t know his name, but I know his method: one car per stop on the R train in Brooklyn, one sweep of the car waving his hand mildly obnoxiously, repeatedly mumbling “spare change for something to eat?”

I’ve never given him money, but I have always told myself that if I had a little food on me (something not chocolate based of course) I would give that to him. You know, cut out the middle man.

Now I am not so sure, he might throw it back in my face.

Saturday he was there again, making his weekend rounds, waving the hand full of change. He paused in front of me. Perhaps for a confrontation? I imagined:

Homeless Man: Seriously? It’s been almost a year and still you got nothing?
Kate: I um, er, I…

Nope. He paused to take some of the change out of his hand and throw out the pennies. Please a penny?! He may be downtrodden, but he’s not that downtrodden.

Now I imagined a new confrontation:

HM: Spare some change for something to eat?
K: here is a sandwich
HM: What is that mayonnaise?! What do you take me for? I want cash money and nothing under a five, this is New York after all.

Sadly his little display of currency related snobbery has solidified my no money giving position for a bit longer, which is bad news for the rest of the city’s homeless, but good news for my non-catholic, catholic guilt.

And if somehow any of the city’s panhandlers that I will not be giving my sandwiches and pennies to happen to be reading this, please take your issues up with the man on the R train in Brooklyn, I think he has a few cents to spare.