There’s a homeless man who sits on the sidewalk outside of Benevolent Dictators, Inc. He’s there every evening when I leave work. He’s on the west side of 5th Avenue just north of 43rd Street and has a sign that reads, “I’m hungry, homeless,” etc. He has a dog with him. It’s a medium sized dog. Maybe a pit bull or a mutt. Do you know what I think when I walk past them every evening? “That poor dog.” How shitty is that? It’s not as though I lack compassion for the man. I just seem to have more for the dog. I’m a jerk.
When I moved to New York twenty years ago, I use to keep a lot of quarters in my pocket and dole them out to homeless people on the streets and subways. The city was in terrible shape when I first got here and homelessness was rampant. But it got to be too much for me and I did what a lot of urban dwellers did; I hardened my heart and the homeless became invisible to me. You had to. It was a defense mechanism. Otherwise, you became overwhelmed with melancholy. So I don’t think I’ve broken that bad habit yet. I should. I’ll try.
Last night on the train I was über annoyed because a woman a few rows behind me was talking talking talking talking talking without pausing to take a breath and I thought my cell phone jammer was failing because I couldn’t shut her up. (It doesn’t always work. If someone’s cell phone is using a frequency outside the range of my jammer, they’re unaffected.) Finally, I turned around so see who was running her pie hole and she wasn’t on the phone. She was with someone but was hogging the entire conversation and wouldn’t allow her friend get a word in. It was all about her! They need to invent a jammer that freezes vocal chords.