The Crazy Kid from Greenwich

by

01/02/2002

41st and 8th Avenue ny ny

Neighborhood: Midtown

In The City. Manhattan. 41st Street and 8th Avenue, seven-thirty Friday morning. I’m waiting on the M10 bus uptown. I have a new job on 57th street. I’m reading my Daily News when I hear a strident voice say, “I’ll give you DOUBLE anything you give me. DOUBLE! You give me a dollar, I’ll give you TWO. You give me five dollars, I’ll give you TEN!”

A young white kid, 17, 18, baggy blue jeans, red zippered sweatshirt, is working his way up the line, loudly accosting my fellow commuters. He’s waving a card of some kind in one face, then another. No one makes eye contact. We’re all bedraggled, immersed in our commuter cocoons, quietly ignoring him. The kid comes closer: “I’ll give you DOUBLE anything you give me. DOUBLE! You give me a dollar, I’ll give you TWO. You give me five dollars, I’ll give you TEN!” Waving the card more frantically, he adds: “Do you see where I’m FROM? Do you see what this SAYS?” An elderly Hispanic woman, tightly clutching her MetroCard, stares through him. I’m next and–-while sleepy and annoyed–secretly long for a bit of spontaneous street theater.

The kid thrusts the card in my face, waves it. “Do you see THIS?!” he yells, “Do you see what it SAYS?! Do you see where I’m FROM?!”

I’m curious and glance at the card. It’s a driver’s license. I focus in on the all-important address, reading the last line aloud: “Greenwich, Connecticut”. The kid yells, “Do you know who lives in my TOWN?! Tommy HILFIGER! Diana ROSS!” I arch an eyebrow, smile weakly. “I’ll give you DOUBLE anything you give me. DOUBLE. You give me two dollars I’ll give you FOUR!” I think about giving him a dollar, just for breaking up the monotony. I look into his jumpy eyes and ask, “How am I supposed to get this double from you? Whadda ya gonna MAIL it to me?” He looks away, ignores my question. He returns to his offer: “I’ll give you DOUBLE. You give me five, I’ll give you TEN!”

I ask another question: “How come you have no money?”

“Cause I spent it all last NIGHT!”

“You spent all your money?”

“Last NIGHT.”

“And now you want me to give you some money so you can get home?”

“I’ll give you DOUBLE anything you give me!” Spittle flies. “You see where I’m FROM?! You see what that SAYS?”

I’ve had enough. “Greenwich, Connecticut? Big deal! You’re in NEW YORK FUCKIN’ CITY NOW!!!” The kid is momentarily stunned. Then he recovers, re-spools his spiel. “I’ll give you DOUBLE. Anything you give me I’ll give you DOUBLE!”

“Why don’t you call your parents?” I ask, reasonably enough.

“Because they’re in Europe, on VACATION!” he shouts back.

“Europe?! Ha!” I shake my head. The kid, deciding to waste no more time on me, backs away, sarcastically berating me: “Thank you. Thank you VERY MUCH. I REALLY appreciate your help. I hope you live a GOOD LONG LIFE. I hope you PROSPER!” Peace returns to the bus stop. A few of my fellow commuters look at me, smile, roll their eyes skyward. I think of shouting after the kid: “Oh yeah? Well, at least I’m not STRANDED in New York with no money, SCHMUCK!” But he’s disappeared into the crowd and the M10 has arrived.

I hope he made it home.

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