Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The hobos take Manhattan

Summer in New York is a special time. The urine smell in the subways is always stale and warm. The amount of trash goes up due to more people being outside and the overall hostility of hot and sweaty people cramped in a small subway car is like no where else on the planet. In addition to all of that fun the hobo population seems to reach new heights...it's like were in that bad Michael Keaton movie from the 90's Multiplicity (except with hobos that look similar instead of cute little Michael Keaton). I'm sure they live here all year round, but they really seem to start walking around more in the summer. Sometimes they wear winter coats and other times hardly anything at all. The BO is always fresh and the change cups jingle jangle as if it were Christmas time.

My interactions with our city's homeless population has been mixed. I once had a man in a coonskin cap spit on me in Union Square. He claimed I stared at him for too long, but wouldn't you stare at a man in a coonskin cap in the middle of Union Square? He was a bit hostile to say the least. Then there are the nice hobos like the one that hangs out near my apartment, who typically offers to help me carry my groceries. I never take him up on it, but it seems like a sincere offer and not him trying to get something out of me. Then there are the unhomeless homeless. The people that have better shoes on than you asking you for change because they lost their job, their life savings, their home, their AIDS...whatever it is. I don't have a lot of sympathy for these folks because they are ripping off tourists and taking away from the people in actual need.

Well even though I joke with you I am mildly sympathetic to the plight of the hobos. I often leave food out or give them whatever food I have on me. I once got some pizza thrown right back at me for offering it to the wrong hobo. Apparently not all homeless people want to be spoken to or offered things. I also got followed down Broadway and yelled at for like 6 blocks for smiling at the wrong hobo. Perhaps hobo isn't the nicest word and maybe making light of what mental illness many of them have also isn't nice, but I am just joking for laughs. I do feel sorry for many of them, but there is also some humor that needs to be found in it or you will depress yourself with the amount of homeless people you come across any given day in this busy city.

So if you have any trips planned to NYC in the summer keep an eye out for your neighborhood hobos, bring some extra snacks, but you can't give money to all of them (Shannon) or you will be broke in about an hour.


Audra said...

I think you should really do something to help the homeless population of NYC. Perhaps organize a summer program full of arts & crafts, personal hygiene lessons, and general etiquette for these people. Call it...HOBO CAMP!!!

joshuaTgilbert said...

I think you should take in one hobo a week and bath and clothe them. You should let them stay and read them your poetry and make them watch skits that you put on with your sister when you were ten, but now you're playing both parts. When they attempt to leave, barricade the door and beg them to stay for just one more rendition of Hello Dolly, and while you're in the other room getting into character and sobbing loudly, secretly hope that they don't climb out the window, which they inevitably always do. Repeat process every week until the first day of fall.

JURU said...

I will try both of your solutions and let you know how they go. And when I get robbed or worse I'll let you know about that too and then I'll be a hobo myself.