Yesterday afternoon, while on the A train, I had an experience like none other in my decade of riding the subway. Normally, when the doors close and the train begins its slow crawl out of the station, there is one distinct voice that emerges. It's either a poor person asking for change, or a musician breaking into song, or dancers getting funky, or a kid selling candy. In all my time riding the subway, I have never been in a car in which simultaneous spiels erupted at the exact same time. I suspect that these individuals are hypersensitive to that potential conflict, and wait on the platform before the train arrives, making sure they will be the only performer in that particular car. But yesterday, that didn't happen.
I was standing a few feet away from a beggar who was so afflicted with cerebral palsy (or something with a similarly dramatic physical effect) that he could barely control his body. As he boarded the train, he apologized to people in order to find a place where he could begin. And just when he started to speak, in an extremely distorted voice that I won't begin to phonetically transcribe for fear of sounding insensitive, he was interrupted by another louder, clearer, more confident voice from the other end of the car. This voice belonged to a teenager who was selling candy for a dollar. When this poor man heard the kid begin to speak, he stopped in mid-sentence and said, with a heartbreakingly retarded voice filled with epic defeat, "Oh, give me a fucking break!"
Here's this guy who clearly hadn't had the best string of luck in the world, and now he was competing with a kid who was handing people candy when they handed him money. All this guy had to offer was a deformed thank you.
When it happened, everyone on the train burst into sympathetic laughter, for it was impossible not to feel that poor man's pain, but it was also flat-out hi-lar-i-ous. The best part is that the man seemed to have a sense of humor about it himself, muttering something about how he couldn't catch a break as he made his way towards another car where I'm sure all of us prayed that he might find a tiny glimmer of luck.
Life... it's fan-tas-tic!