by Matt Mayer

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Most Charitable of Beggars

A woman walked onto a crowded subway car. Wasting no time, she was already speaking highly of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost as she cleared the closing doors, blessing the entire car. She placed her laundry bag on a clear section of bench; one can only assume the clothes in the bag were as ratty and torn as the shirt on her back.

Boisterous and lightly coated with a veneer of joy, she offered up a unique rendition of This Little Light of Mine peppered with interjections of "Holy Ghost!" and "Church!" The woman made sure to sing loud and proud towards both the north and south ends of the 4 train.

Predictably, at the end of the song, she reached into her own back pocket and pulled out some change. With the mineral-colored pieces of metal in her hand, she walked swiftly from one end of the car to the other, requesting more pieces of metal. She rattled off generic labels like an auctioneer to get the attention of innocent bystanders: "Young man, young lady, thank you young man, young lady, young lady, mister, thank you ma'am, young lady, miss, young man, mister..."

As she completed her collection of payment for services rendered, she picked up her laundry bag and paused to make one more charitable contribution. She made sure to lose her temper at a man near the door who had ignored her entire show, like so many others had. He now knows how hard it is to do what she does, how long she was in the military, and what kind of a person he really is. She's got a little light, and she let it shine all over the unsuspecting man.

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